I have to say that the most common phrase I've been using to describe my surgery to friends and family is "a very cool experience." Now, it's not something I'd like to do every weekend, but nonetheless I have to report that I was entirely comfortable throughout the day.
We checked in about 11am and I was quickly admitted into the examination room. After changing into the requisite hospital gown, the nurse arrived to double-check which procedure I was about to undergo and start the IV. I was impressed with how thoroughly everyone involved checked my name and what kind of surgery I was going to have. One does not relish the thought of waking up and finding out you're missing a kidney instead of getting a nerve fixed! Strangely, perhaps, the thing I was most nervous about was having the IV put in. I hate needles. This nurse, however, was a master - slight sting to numb the area, then no feeling at all when the actual IV was put in. Whew.
The anesthesiologist arrived to discuss what would happen shortly (vial of mystery fluid into the IV, mask, then wake up slowly and carefully) , then the surgeon came in to do his final checks. Much to my amusement, after marking the line for the incision he initialed my arm. I felt special, somehow. He explained various post-operative instructions for our benefit, then I was prepped for transport to the OR and my wife was summarily dismissed to the waiting area (much to her consternation).
I remember that (a) the OR was very cold, (b) there were a LOT of people around, and (c) several seconds after they put the mask on me I woke up, rather groggy. Thankfully, I had no adverse effects from the anesthesia and was wheeled back to the examination room, where my wife was finally allowed back in. From entering the OR to waking up was about two and a half hours.
It turned out that while he was operating, the surgeon found more or less what he was looking for. Discolored blood vessels around the ulnar nerve showed where the compressions were (yes, multiple compressions). After clearing space for the nerve to move, he noticed a new issue, however. While checking my range of motion on the operating table (how cool is that?!), he noticed my ulnar nerve popping around my inside elbow bone each time he flexed my arm. Obviously that wouldn't do, so he actually moved the nerve around that bone and created a new tunnel for it out of muscle fibers in my arm. (I never studied anatomy, so I can only describe the procedure from the general descriptions my surgeon gave us.)
After the nurse went through the post-operative instructions one more time, we went back to our hotel about 5pm with painkillers, antibiotics, and a very well-wrapped right arm. For the next few days, I got to experience doing quite a few things left-handed, but thankfully (again) the pain was never more than a general annoyance. I was off the painkillers by the fifth day, and starting to do some light practicing that same day. The surgeon encouraged me to practice as soon as possible, as that would double as physical therapy during my recovery.
What happened next? I'll finish out my story in part 3.