The Amy Grenade

Its been almost 4 weeks since I had my cast off and my pins removed, and life has immeasurably improved.

It wasn’t without hiccup though. The day the ‘Amy grenade’ was pulled, the first thing the surgeon said was “your fingers are swollen” I explained that they did that from time to time, if i used them too much. He removed my cast and set free my skinny corpse arm. Even with swelling it was obviously wasted. It felt so vulnerable, like it would snap at any minute. It had had a 13 months of utter under use due to pain, and 2 months complete immobilisation. Needless to say my muscles had receded to a surface area not dissimilar to to that of a deflated balloon.

Then he found a pair of regular pliers and pulled at the pins. The best I can describe the feeling was like a pressure build up that moved through my wrist as each pin was pulled. Like a fishing net that picks up more debris as its being dragged through water. It didn’t hurt during though there was a deep ache after, but it was no worse than anything I had experienced to date. It did give me the shakes though, just shock I guess. I have a 17 second video that captures the moment, that’s how quick it was! I have never felt anything like it in my entire life, and hope never to again.

Unfortunately the surgeon was not happy with the level of swelling, the colour, or the temperature – dead cold. He explained that sometimes after extensive and prolonged injury the nervous system can ‘wind it self up’. The pain sensation pathway involves a collection of chemicals being released from one cell to the next, transmitting the signals required to correctly respond to pain and trauma. Normally this pathway completes on its own accord, but under some conditions an infinite loop is achieved. Long after injury has healed ,the pain pathway is still responding as though there is still trauma. Resulting in swelling, inflammation, temperature changes, heightened skin sensitivity and of course – pain. The surgeon reefer me on to a pain specialist,who also so had to be my anaesthetist. I saw him a few weeks after and he diagnosed it as Complex Region Pain Syndrome Type 1. He was happy that it was only minor and seemed to be receding on its own, apparently my constant massaging was helping restore normal responses. He gave me some cream which apparently releases chemicals which help break the feedback loop and sent me on my way.

The first few days were, to be frank, terrifying. But over the last 4 weeks the improvements are already huge. I have 45 degrees of upward flexion and 30 degrees downward. I can flex upward with a 1kg weight with no pain at all. My fingers and thumb move freely and without pain. My grip feels stronger than I remembered – though its still measures just less than my non dominate hand. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I have many more months of rehabilitation. In the short term, my goals are:

  • Push myself up from my chair.
  • Hold a 2kg weight in my hand with my elbow on a table, arm vertical. Without shaking like a leaf.
  • Improve my grip strength beyond that of my left.

Even without anymore rehabilitation, the results as they stand today have changed my life. I can open doors, I can dress, I can write and BEST of all I can type. All without pain. Initially I would fatigue due to the weakness in my fingers, hand wrist and arm. Yesterday worked for 7 hours without once getting sore! I coded for almost 7 hours, without getting sore! Not once! Not a niggle or a pull. My head tapped out before my hand did. I am for the first time in a long time, starting to once again feel effective in my job and hobbies. I can get into that zone of deep concentration again – something I have not had the privilege of doing for over a year.  


Copyright © 2015 Amy Palamountain