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Since my blog is a health journey, I’m going off in a slightly different direction on this post but it still falls under the health journey idea. For the past few months, I’ve had a right middle finger trigger finger. A trigger finger is when any of your fingers can get stuck in a bent position and/or click with movement such as making a fist. You can read more about it here
How it all started
Back in August 2021, my finger started this clicking and staying bent. It was really mild in intensity and no pain so I didn’t get around to seeing a hand surgeon until the following month. He confirmed the diagnosis and gave me an injection of a steroid called betamethasone. Steroid injections can decrease inflammation and pain. Sometimes it can fix the problem, sometimes it’s temporary. Some people get months of relief, others weeks. Mine lasted till December and when it wore off it was very mild like before.
It then started increasing in intensity – if my finger would get anywhere near my palm, it would slam shut in the bent position. It also started being painful especially in the knuckle. Back to the hand surgeon, a second injection probably wouldn’t work given the first one didn’t last long. I opted to skip it and get the trigger finger release.
It’s a surgery done under local anesthesia and sometime IV sedation. It involves opening up the sheath in the palm where the nodule on the tendon gets stuck. It’s an ambulatory surgery procedure, no stay is needed and you’re often in and out in 2-3 hours.
While waiting for the surgery date, I found a Trigger Finger Support Group on Facebook and joined. People were in various stages with this, getting injections, preop, postop and months down the road. Of course your surgeon will explain things to you, but it’s really helpful to hear it from those with the same issue. Someone brought up the topic of handling “personal hygiene” and that led to a lot of practical advice about that and other obstacles that may come your way. That eventually gave me the idea for this post.
I’m writing this from the point of view of someone who lives alone. Well, I have two cats, they’re not going to help out, but still expect their meals on time. If you have someone in your household, that’s great, make sure to thank them periodically.
Powder free gloves Use them for “personal hygiene,” taking a shower once the bandage is off, if you decide to clean anything.
Antibacterial soap We probably all have this now. Wash your hand/incision with it to help keep it from becoming infected.
Band-Aids This RN actually had to go buy some. Once the bandage is off, they’re good to cover your incision. Some people get freaked out with the Frankenstein look. Also great for pushing a shopping cart, or doing activities your incision would not like being naked for. At the time of this writing, my sutures are out and it’s in the healing process. I cover it when I go to the gym, play pickle or bocce ball, take out the trash cans, etc. So you may want a big box.
Over the counter medications. You’ll probably get a few tablets of a prescription pain pill but doctors are limited by how many they can order or refill. They’ll let you know what over the counter meds you can use. The trick is to use them regularly for a few days, not let them wear off. I did that for two days, then just at night.
Bio Oil I heard about this on the FaceBook group. Great oil for a lot of skin issues including helping heal an incision and make the scar look less noticeable. And it smells nice.
Moisturizing lotions such as cocoa butter to keep the site and scar softened and make it more comfortable.
Pillows – you’ll have instructions to keep your hand elevated on pillows so it’s above your heart, it helps keep the swelling under control.
finger trigger advice and hacks
Make sure all your questions and concerned are addressed to your satisfaction. Write them down if you need to.
Repeated from above – stay on top of your pain, it’s much harder to get it under control once the meds wear off, instead of taking regular doses for a day or two. It’s also really not that bad, I hated the bandage/wrap more than anything and whined about it to anyone who would listen, including my cats. They were indifferent. And on the subject of those two, I practiced scooping the litter box left handed the week before. I’m actually good at it.
If you live alone or you’re the one who cooks, a few days of meal prepping is a good idea. So is keeping the number of the local pizza place handy.
I did learn that scooping ice cream out of the carton is not a skill I have with my opposite hand. I bought individual servings. Ice cream is good for healing.
Make a grocery store run a day or two before and stock up. Trying to push a cart one handed while wearing the big annoying bandage isn’t as easy as you may think.
Catch up on the laundry. If you’re like me and buy the big detergent bottles, place them where you can reach them. Mine are usually on a shelf over my head, now they’re on top of the dryer.
Fill up the gas tank the day before. One less thing you’ll need to do for a while. And when you’re bandage free, you’re going to want to use one of the gloves to protect your incision from those nasty, gross gas pumps.
I do not advise this unless you live alone. I have two prescription medications and those tops are sometimes hard to open. Even with using your other hand, you still need the ability to hold the bottle with the affected hand and it’s uncomfortable. I put each in a sandwich bag with a few of the tablets out of the bottle for easier access.
Ladies – sports bras are a lot easier to put on. And off. Shaving your legs pre-op can mean less risk and bleeding trying it with your other hand.
I did learn I cannot use scissors with my left hand. I’d swear I had the ability when I was a kid. What I ended up doing is holding the scissors in my right hand and pushing the blades together with my left.
The inconveniences of trigger finger surgery outweigh the swelling and pain from a finger that constantly locks or even gets stuck in a bent position. It takes a little planning and a few creative workarounds, but it’s so much better on this side of the surgery