The day after I returned home from Europe, TJ and I drove to Flagstaff where I saw an orthopedic hand specialist. He diagnosed my injury as a stener lesion of my UCL ligament in my left thumb and I’d need surgery. He expressed some doubt as to whether he’d be able to do the simplest repair (pin the ligament back in place) and said there would be a good chance he’d have to reconstruct the ligament from a tendon in my forearm. Ugh.
The very next day I submitted a request through the USOC for a referral to see a different orthopedic specialist through the National Medical Network. The reasons were primarily financial (if my request was approved, I wouldn't have to pay for surgery!) but I wanted a second opinion anyways. I was approved and the USOC booked me a flight to Colorado where I was set up to see an orthopedic surgeon the very next week (on June 6th).
The surgeon in Colorado Springs, Dr. Kobayashi, made the same diagnosis but was very confident I wouldn’t need a reconstruction and also commented that this procedure was one of his favorites (because he often sees good outcomes). With that, we scheduled surgery for the very next day. Dr Kobayashi has a Sports Medicine certification and it was obvious he was used to working with athletes.
My Dad drove me down to Colorado Springs for surgery and the procedure was a huge success. Dr Kobayashi was able to repair my existing ligament so I didn't need a full reconstruction. For surgery, I chose to be heavily sedated instead of undergoing a general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist said my request wasn't very common although it seemed like a no-brainer to me since I'd avoid a breathing tube and be able to leave the surgery center quicker. Honestly, I was out the whole time and don't remember much!
At 6:00am the morning after surgery, USADA dropped by my parents house for an out-of-competition drug test. It was a weird experience reporting drugs such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, and propofol (all legal out-of-competition for surgery). My arm was still in a sling and completely numb from the nerve block so it was a little challenging to pee in a cup. But I'm happy to do my part, even if it's 6:00am the day after surgery.
I’m writing this update at two-weeks post-op. I’ve spent the past 10 days training indoors in my Dad’s art studio in Boulder, CO and before that I was doing a bit of hiking. I've also been getting in some one-handed strength work with the help of Joslynn Corredor at the Boulder Rock Club. It's been really good to catch up with my family in Boulder and spend some time with Pigeon, my parents border collie. She was pretty much my therapy dog while I was in Colorado. I was a little gloomy at times but walking around with Pigeon seemed to do the trick, time and time again.
I have a lot of work ahead of me to get my thumb working again but I’m up for the challenge. The bummer is that I will miss a large portion of racing this summer. I can’t risk injuring that thumb again while it’s healing.
I'm headed home to Prescott tomorrow and I'm looking forward to experiencing a whole month at home during the summer. Maybe this is an opportunity to start a yard project...
Thanks for checking in,