• Under the Knife

    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]
    This article was originally published in blog: Under the Knife started by AJPettersen
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Good luck in your recovery, AJ!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Wishing you a fast recovery. Congrats for your early promotion to New Britain this season too!
    1. Madre Dos's Avatar
      Madre Dos -
      AJ! No more injuries. You had a career full after taking that fastball in Johnson City. Good luck, heal quick and I'll see you in March.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Cool, insightful read AJ. I think many Fans that are non-athletes don't really know how many times this can happen over the course of any given athletes career.

      What questions did youre wife come up with before the anasthiesa kicked in?

      LOL

      Heal up and go get 'em for the Cats / Rd. Wings in 2014!
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      AJ, well written and insightful. Thanks for giving us a peek. When the doctor said "no exercise," I hope he just meant no wind-sprints or tackling dummies. You can at least go for walks, right?

      Get better soon, then show us your baseball super power!
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Are these surgeries & therapy100% covered by the team. I have always wondered about how injuries and recovery are paid for -especially for minor leaugers.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Great article. I just had a similar thing with a broken leg. Wifes that are awesome are the best thing in the world.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      AJ, well written and insightful. Thanks for giving us a peek. When the doctor said "no exercise," I hope he just meant no wind-sprints or tackling dummies. You can at least go for walks, right?

      Get better soon, then show us your baseball super power!
      Thanks! He said I need to avoid things that make me sweat, I think it's more to avoid infections than anything. So light walks would probably be find. Also, exercise on pain meds isn't very safe.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Are these surgeries & therapy100% covered by the team. I have always wondered about how injuries and recovery are paid for -especially for minor leaugers.
      Yep, it's like any other work comp injury. I was hurt on the "job," so that's how it's dealt with.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Great article. I just had a similar thing with a broken leg. Wifes that are awesome are the best thing in the world.
      Thanks! Injuries are no fun, hope you are feeling better. They are awesome, don't know what I would do without my wife!
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Good luck in your recovery, AJ!
      Thanks Jeremy, hope all is well with you!
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Wishing you a fast recovery. Congrats for your early promotion to New Britain this season too!
      Thanks, I appreciate it!
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Madre Dos View Post
      AJ! No more injuries. You had a career full after taking that fastball in Johnson City. Good luck, heal quick and I'll see you in March.
      Haha, I agree. At least I won't miss games for this one! Thanks, see you in the spring.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Thanks AJ, wonderful to hear from you again. Nice image with the ligaments/Twizzlers thing. Our family--especially my boys--wish you well. They are big fans, after you took the time to visit with them this summer after a home game. It was after 11:30 p.m., the mosquitoes were thick outside the stadium, and your wrist was probably throbbing, but you signed their game balls, talked about your blog with me, and made their vacation out East even more special. Rest well, heal up, and we'll be cheering you on next year! Take care.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      Thanks AJ, wonderful to hear from you again. Nice image with the ligaments/Twizzlers thing. Our family--especially my boys--wish you well. They are big fans, after you took the time to visit with them this summer after a home game. It was after 11:30 p.m., the mosquitoes were thick outside the stadium, and your wrist was probably throbbing, but you signed their game balls, talked about your blog with me, and made their vacation out East even more special. Rest well, heal up, and we'll be cheering you on next year! Take care.
      Thank you for the well wishes. I'm glad y'all enjoyed your trip, I remember you. It is always nice meeting quality people through baseball. Enjoy the fall.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Clearly AJ is also spending time on the internet during his downtime.....

      AJ, what's it like to read peoples' opinions on line? How do you and your team mates react to stuff on line?
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Clearly AJ is also spending time on the internet during his downtime.....

      AJ, what's it like to read peoples' opinions on line? How do you and your team mates react to stuff on line?
      Haha, that is definitely true. I'll probably get a little stir crazy soon.

      It is interesting, but it can't affect the way we think about ourselves. If other's opinions change our confidence (for better or worse), we aren't going to make it very far. It is always better to stay even keel and internally motivated.
    1. AJPettersen's Avatar
      AJPettersen -
      Quote Originally Posted by shs_59 View Post
      Cool, insightful read AJ. I think many Fans that are non-athletes don't really know how many times this can happen over the course of any given athletes career.

      What questions did youre wife come up with before the anasthiesa kicked in?

      LOL

      Heal up and go get 'em for the Cats / Rd. Wings in 2014!
      Ya, it does happen, it's part of the game. I hope she didn't ask anything too crazy, I probably wouldn't remember!

      I appreciate the support!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by AJPettersen View Post
      I hope she didn't ask anything too crazy, I probably wouldn't remember!
      I'm assuming that she would have let you know by now. Ha!
    1. perkins7's Avatar
      perkins7 -
      AJ, thanks for your writeup! I've always wondered what it looks like behind the scenes when players need further medical attention. I'm applying to medical school a year from now so to combine a story like this with my love for all things Twins is great! Slightly off-topic, but do you happen to know what Dr. Stuebs specialty is? I've always been curious as to the career path for physicians on professional sports teams. I feel like most are orthopedic specialists, but that's mostly just a guess on my part. Do you have any idea?
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