Monday, November 14, 2011

Healing a Broken Hand

How I came into crocheting is likely far different than most stories you have heard.  My grandmother didn't teach me at her knee, and my aunts and my mother would have tied themselves in knots trying to crochet.  In fact, my mother and I tried several times through the years to learn how to crochet.  It never happened.

Then one night in 2003, I went to an arts and crafts night for military wives.  One of the other wives was going to teach us all to crochet.  I laughed hard at this, knowing how many times before I had tried so hard to learn.  This time though, it was different.  I don't remember her name, but she showed us a VERY primitive method to crochet.  EVERY single stitch required 2 hands.  It was very mechanical and basic, but HEY!!  I WAS crocheting by the time I left!

I crocheted a few blankets using this method, not even knowing I was supposed to go through BOTH loops of the stitch in the previous row!  I was doing a decorative stitch and didn't even know it!  One of the blankets I made this way, I sent to my husband who was on a long deployment on the USS Nimitz.  I was so proud that I had finally learned to take yarn and make knots to actually make a blanket and not just a mess of knots.

I crocheted that first blanket, the one I sent my husband, for therapy!  No, not mental therapy, though it DID provide that as well, I crocheted that blanket for therapy for my HAND!

On December 23, 2002, I was delivering a box of food to another military family, for Operation Homefront.  Carrying a rather large box, I went to step up onto a sidewalk... only the curb was higher than most sidewalk curbs.  Down I went, box and all.  The family rushed to my aid, and I had scraped my knee up pretty good.  My hand hurt, but my knee was bleeding.  After sitting for a few minutes to gather my composure, I thanked the family for their help and left.

It wasn't until I went to open the car door that I really noticed I might have really hurt my hand.  I couldn't make a fist or bend my index finger.  I got in the car, buckled up and drove right index finger pointing to the sky.

On December 26, still not able to bend my right index finger, and experiencing intense pain throughout my hand, I went to see a doctor at the Naval hospital in San Diego, affectionately referred to as Balboa.  The doctor I saw at Balboa heard my tale, looked at my straight and only slightly swollen finger and informed me it was just jammed and it would take a few days to get better. He didn't even splint it.

I thought maybe he was right and went home, and lived life with my right index finger pointing always faithfully to the sky.  I experienced on and off pain throughout my hand, but I figured it would go away at some point.  When February rolled around, and my finger was still stuck in position, I returned to Balboa.  This time another doctor looked at it and sent me for x-rays.  The x-rays of my finger were fine, though he agreed something was indeed wrong.  I was then informed that sometimes jammed fingers can take a few months to heal...

Finally July rolled around and I was still going through life with my right index finger frozen in place.  I was beginning to experience a lot more pain a lot more often.  Back to Balboa I went.  More x-rays were taken.  This time the doctor also said my finger looked fine, but I was referred to a hand surgeon since it had been so long.

I made the appointment and waited.  It was during this waiting time that I went to the arts and crafts night and learned to crochet!

Finally it was the day of my appointment with the hand surgeon.  He took x-rays of my entire hand, not just focusing on my index finger.  He came in with a very serious look on his face.  He put my x-ray up and showed me where the bone leading to my finger had been broken off.  My index finger was not broken after all, it was actually my hand!  He was a little upset that Balboa had taken so long to send me his way.  He told me had I come to him sooner, or had Balboa looked at my HAND and not just the finger, things might not have gotten so bad.

The part of bone that had broken off was absorbed by my body, so it wasn't even there to repair.  I was informed that I could still have near normal function of my hand and finger, but I would likely experience pain that would increase as I got older.

The hand surgeon then sent me to physical and occupational therapy to regain use of my hand and finger.  As I was talking to my occupational therapist, she asked me if I knew how to crochet!  I told her I had just learned!  She then grinned and told me I was about to get "a whole lot better at it"!  I showed how I crocheted, using my right middle finger since I was just starting to get movement back in my index finger.  She told me to really try to use my index finger...and that I needed to learn the "REAL" way to crochet.

I went home and made the blanket.  Crocheting, along with the other hand exercises I was doing, brought my hand back to almost full function... I now only have slight movement issues, when I try to do things like turn a lid.  I credit crocheting most of all, since it was the only exercise that I really enjoyed!  I could SEE what I was doing.  I went from doing 4 or 5 stitches a few times a day, to whole rows a few times a day.

Crochet healed me!

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