Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eight hours of hand surgery at age two

Day before hand surgery

Paul was born with his middle and ring fingers on both hands connected. The individual bones were there, but there was no webbing in between for the natural finger separation.

Also the day before

We immediately consulted a hand surgeon who suggested we wait until he was four years old to schedule a surgery to separate his fingers.  He said if the procedure was done too soon scar tissue could undermine the skin grafts needed to create the webs between his fingers.

However, once Paul realized he could stretch the two fingers apart a little bit – around age two – he wanted to open them. He asked for a screwdriver ("foogiver," he said) to accomplish it. Of course that frightened us and we consulted another surgeon. He agreed to do the work sooner rather than later.

So, a couple of months after Paul turned two he underwent an eight-hour surgery to open his fingers and graft skin taken from his groin area to create the webs in between. Each hand had about one hundred stitches.


Although Paul definitely wanted his fingers opened, the trauma of the surgery, the four hours of recovery afterward without his parents allowed at his side, and the all-enveloping casts that didn’t allow him to suck those fingers anymore took its toll. He came away from that experience with a whole list of fears related to his hospital stay that he didn't get over for quite a while. But, once the casts were off he could maneuver the now five digits on each of his hands perfectly. Also, had he not had that surgery he probably never would have learned to play the piano. 

Results just after casts are removed

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Yay, so glad this went well. My oldest son has had numerous surgeries that were quite alarming. It's so terrifying to go through it and wonderful when it turns out just right.

I'm happy for your son and for you and your family!