Injuries are tough to deal with, but they are part of the game of baseball. After playing nearly every day for six months, there are bound to be aches and pains. Some things resolve with rest, while others need medical attention. After this year ended, I had a wrist issue I knew I had to get taken care of. I got an MRI and after meeting with Dr. Steubs (the head Twins doc), I was referred to Dr. Berger at the Mayo Clinic. He is an ulnar sided wrist pain expert, so I was hopeful that he could fix me up.
My wife, Emily, and I took the trip down to Rochester on Monday to have an evaluation done. Dr. Berger introduced himself and began feeling around for pain and discomfort. He found a few areas and then looked at the MRI to determine the significance. While wrist pain is often very difficult to diagnose, he told me there was a 95% chance I had a split tear in one of my ligaments called the ulnotriquetral ligament (UT for short). The best way to explain this is with Twizzler's Pull and Peels. Rather than the ligament ripping across the Twizzler's, it was separating the long way. The fibers were tearing and opening like a book.
Dr. Berger had performed this operation many times since he invented it eight years ago. He has performed it on baseball players, golfers and many others. I felt fairly confident in his ability to fix the problem so we decided to do surgery on Wednesday.
We arrived at the surgery center around 9 am and by 9:30 I had an IV in. The nurse advised my wife to ask questions after she put “truth serum” into my line. An anesthesiologist arrived and explained that the surgery would be performed with a nerve block. She numbed my skin and hooked up an ultrasound machine so she could see exactly what she was doing. She was trying to explain to me what was happening on the screen. All I could think was, "I'm just glad you went to a lot of school to learn how to do this."
Once a sufficient amount of numbing medication was injected into the nerves beneath my armpit, she checked the results. She asked me to pull and then push. Eventually she pushed my wrist down and it just flopped, all feeling was gone. Staring at your own arm without sensing it is a very odd feeling.
A little later, in the operating room, I was given more sedative drugs and sent off to lala land. I woke up what seemed like 5 minutes later. Dr. Berger came in and said the split tear was deep (picture the binding of the open book falling apart), but he was able to stitch it closed. He also found another small tear in the area and was able to clean it out. He handed me a sheet full of pictures for proof. It appeared to be a bunch of clouds inside my arm, looked like it was about to storm. Again I thought, “good thing he knows what he’s looking at.”
I'll be in a post surgery cast for two weeks, followed by four more in a plaster cast and then a removable splint. The doc tried to apologize for the hour and a half drive to get the casts changed, I told him it was a very small price to pay to have him cut me open.
I'm not allowed to exercise for two weeks, so Netflix is currently keeping me sane. A healthy dose of pain meds, Parenthood
and naps will fill the next few days. I'm lucky to have a wife that takes care of me/puts up with me post surgery (she was also there after the nose smashing incident my first year).
I hope you enjoyed the look at an injury from the player's perspective. I'm happy to be on the road to recovery!
Follow me through the recovery process and the offseason on Twitter! @APettersen1
You can also follow my wife as she gives a little different take on minor league life @em_pettersen or on her blog emilyandaj.blogspot.com
If you have any questions or comments you can email me at [email protected]