Back in May, I had what ended up being a major hand surgery — repairing a torn tendon and in the process reconstructing the end of my pinkie by grafting tendons borrowed from my ring finger. As a result, I am now recovering from two injuries — the pinkie itself and the ring finger that was the donor.
What I have learned is that most surgeons under-sell the recovery process. Surgery is invasive and often causes as many problems than it solves. In my case, the scar tissue from the surgery is a huge barrier to recovery — it is currently stopping my tendons from “gliding” correctly, which is what lets you actuate your fingers in both directions.
So I have been going to occupational therapy for the last few weeks to work towards regaining motion in my hand. It’s really 8 distinct projects to regain fluidity on both tendons on each of 4 knuckles (3 in my pinkie and one in the ring finger).
The progress has been slow – each session I find out how many degrees of motion I have gained (or lost) in each knuckle, in each direction. It is frustrating, because especially in the area of the major reconstruction, it is hard to feel any motion or progress.
But I realized today that even in the worst spot there is at least a wiggle. And working that wiggle — even a tiny bit — gets you a little farther along, and enables a little more. So I have to believe that progress is possible and work the wiggle so that tomorrow I can work it a little more.
Like with a lot of things, it is hard to accept that progress happens slowly and incrementally, rather than quickly and fully. But I am trying to remind myself, that like with everything, we are working with compound interest and that the goal is to get a little better every day, and then build on that. Easier said than done, of course, but important to remember that that’s how things usually work.