Gary’s Broken Finger

January 28, 2013

Many of you have been wondering why we have delayed our departure from California, and others have asked about my recent surgery. Here’s the scoop on both questions.

Forty years ago, in South Lake Tahoe, CA, I tore the bottom of my left middle finger off while installing a winch cable on our Land Rover (The Turtle I). The classic 8274 manual-control Warn winch tried to pull my knuckle through the rollers. It didn’t fit. Broken beyond repair. The orthopedic surgeon in Tahoe did an “island pedicle flap”, stealing a blood vessel and a nerve from my ring finger to repair the injury on the middle finger. Cool? The knuckle was history. The doctor, who was then the Orthopedic Surgeon for the 49 football team, confided to me that while the middle knuckle of the finger was frozen at a 35° angle, left hands were really only good for two things: beer cans and ski poles.

This Summer I slipped off a ladder and re-broke the same finger, but now it was in a 90° angle and twisted to the side, making it difficult to even put gloves on, let alone hitting the correct keys while typing!

Recent surgery by Dr Richard Tortosa in Yuba City, CA, who happens to be one of the very best orthopedic hand specialists in the country, opened up the top of the re-broken finger, removed some bone chips, and installed a screw and a pin to fuse the joint in a more useable 30° angle. Now, after ten days in a cast and eight more weeks with a splint, the finger is healing well and we are getting back up to speed with our final packing and departure.

In the process, I learned how many things the left hand is used for, like tying my shoes, and I did get out of doing dishes for a few weeks. I can also now easily hold beer cans and ski poles.

Back in Tahoe, an “island pedicle flap”, was done stealing a blood vessel and a nerve from my ring finger to repair the injury on the middle finger.

Back in Tahoe, an “island pedicle flap”, was done stealing a blood vessel and a nerve from my ring finger to repair the injury on the middle finger.

The re-broke finger was in a 90° angle and twisted to the side, making it difficult to even put gloves on.

The re-broke finger was in a 90° angle and twisted to the side, making it difficult to even put gloves on.

Like my cool sling? Cost over $150 bucks! Monika could have made one from an old sheet. And we wonder about the cost of health care?

Like my cool sling? Cost over $150 bucks! Monika could have made one from an old sheet. And we wonder about the cost of health care?

Skin between the ring and middle finger needed to be relieved to get more blood flow through.

Skin between the ring and middle finger needed to be relieved to get more blood flow through.

With the cast and stitches removed, healing has been quick.

With the cast and stitches removed, healing has been quick.

Just checking, Finger surgery was a success!

Just checking, Finger surgery was a success!

Final packing! Three years, 26 countries, temperatures from –60°F in the mountains of Tajikistan to over 120°F in China’s Gobi Desert, medical supplies, selected spare parts, tools, camera equipment --- you can imagine the list.

Final packing! Three years, 26 countries, temperatures from –60°F in the mountains of Tajikistan to over 120°F in China’s Gobi Desert, medical supplies, selected spare parts, tools, camera equipment — you can imagine the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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