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Hand surgery will put me on the 'DL' for a while — what it means for 11thFrame.com

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2024 7:00 am
Hand surgery will put me on the 'DL' for a while — what it means for 11thFrame.com
My left hand after surgery on June 20, 2024.

I have written pretty much 365 days a year since starting 11thFrame.com more than 15 years ago, wth my count now over 15,000 stories. Even on the rare days when I might not be posting a story, I’m almost always working on future stories.

That is going to change for a short period of time starting Thursday when I have surgery on my left-hand that will leave me with a large cast that will  almost totally immobilize my hand.

My surgery is called left thumb CMC arthroplasty with a tendon transfer and it’s something I’ve been heading toward for a while. Basically my left hand has gotten to be almost useless when it comes to anything where squeezing/grasping with the thumb is required, even something as simple as pulling a cap off of a tube of Chapstick. 

In the surgery, the wrist bone that is grinding on my thumb is removed and a section of a flexor tendon is taken from my forearm and used to stabilize the joint and replace the bone.

Since I’m getting this surgery done, I’ve also asked to get the Dupuytren contracture on my left pinky finger corrected. That finger has reached the point of interfering with function and being painful when trying to use it, and it could continue to get worse, so getting it done at the same time makes sense.

I go back on July 2 to get the club cast replaced with a smaller cast that will give my fingers enough freedom to move so that I can type and return to my newspaper job and 11thFrame.com work. I also meet with a physical therapist that day to begin rehab, and have more PT appointments scheduled after that. About four weeks after surgery, I will get a third cast that is smaller, plastic and removeable to enable me to ramp up my rehab. 

I’ve typed with just my index fingers since high school, when I took a typing class but eventually found formal typing technique to be too difficult with my  3-operation right wrist. (I can type faster with just my index fingers than most people can using formal technique, and I don't need to look at the keyboard.)

The bottom line is that from June 20 to July 2 I will be one-handed and on leave from my newspaper job and not planning to write anything for 11thFrame.com. After that, it will be business as usual if all goes well.

Fortunately, the PBA Tour, PWBA Tour, and PBA50 Tour all are off during that period and the Junior Gold Championships haven’t started. The only major events going are the USBC Open Championships and Women’s Championships and if there is a lead change, or any other big news, I will have to manage typing with just my right index finger.

The good news is the surgery is relatively common — for example, my sister had both of her hands done and my mom one — and almost always successful, with normal function regained in roughly three months.

So hopefully I will get the OK to return to the gym around Labor Day or shortly after and can focus on getting back into shape after years of injuries, surgeries, and the pandemic caused many lengthy interruptions to my workout routine. I'm about 25 to 30 pounds over where I was when I tore my left IT band in November 2016 and I'd love to at least close to that again.