Hand update

Several people have asked for an update on my hand, and I thank you for your concern.

Back in September I had a cooking accident with a knife that severed a number of things in my left hand, requiring surgery to correct. The one question mark was whether the nerve repair would work or not. Five months later I have regained most of my mobility but lost about 1 1/2″ in my hand span (bad for playing piano); worse, I still haven’t regained any sensation in that part of my hand so it looks unlikely that I will.

Though I hold the needle with my right hand, it is my left hand that holds the cloth and controls the depth of stitches. When pad stitching, blind stitching, making buttonholes, etc. you can’t see what is going on underneath so you rely on your finger tips to tell you if you have pierced the cloth far enough, or if you have gone too far. My first few attempts at sewing made this painfully (or rather, not) obvious, when I instead drove the needle into my finger without realizing it. Bleeding on my work, I had to put it down and get cleaned up. I haven’t picked it up since.

I’m still hoping the nerve will eventually grow back, if not I will have to figure out a new way of manipulating the cloth in order to get the desired results.

26 Replies to “Hand update

  1. I'm so sorry to hear that. Thanks for the update and let's hope that you'll figure out how to cope with this change.

  2. hopefully your hand will regain enough sensation for you to be able to use it normally again, sometimes it can take what seems like an age to recover.

  3. My sympathies.. I wondered whether you could wear a thimble or even just one of those rings with a shield style setting (just in metal) and sew very slowly so your 'aware' right hand would realize when the needle came into contact with the shield over the 'unaware' fingers on your left hand. I realise thimbles reduce mobility etc which is why I suggested rings. You could get a couple of ill-fitting ones from an op-shop that only fit upto your first joint. Or stop by one of those fast-fashion teens shops and try with a couple of crappy rings from there. . You can also get high coverage jointed rings in costume shops/ indie shops but these will cost more.. best of luck.

  4. Hi there Jeffery,

    Oh gosh, so sorry to learn that the process is slow. We are all routing for you; sadly, these things take time. What is it they say, all good things come to those who wait?? Annoying, but probably true.

    So understand your frustration about your left hand. Its amazing how much we use it, even though right handed.

    I am coming out in sympathy with you. Waiting for a date for surgery on my left shoulder, as condition worsened and some days I can't sew or use my left hand as the pain travels. I am not the huge talent you are, and I sincerely hope for a full recovery for you. Hang on in there!

  5. I'm so sorry about your slow recovery. Nerves can grow back slowly, so hopefully you learn to adjust while waiting to return to normal.

  6. Dang, what an unfortunate injury! Don't give up hope on the nerves; sometimes they take a long time to come back in.

    A number of years ago I cut a slanted ~8mm piece off the end of my left index finger with a table saw. Some of the bone was gone, but the surgeon kind of mushed the chunk back onto the end and sewed it up there. No feeling in the chunk for something like a year, then it started coming back and actually was rather painful and over sensitive for a long time. Its about 8 years later now and its maybe 80% of what it used to be.

    Maybe your nerves are never coming back, but its still possible they will do something with more time. Hopefully that will be the case!

  7. Sorry to hear your hand is healing rather slowly. I have sent you a message regarding a certain brand of jacket you have been after for a while. let me know if this interests you.

  8. Jeffrey, I'm realizing sorry to hear it's taking so long to heal and that you may have permanent nerve damage. I really hope not, but am glad to hear there's a workaround so you can still sew if the sensation doesn't come back.

    I didn't realize you played piano.

  9. Jeffery, I'm also sorry to hear about the nerves in your hand. That's really tough to hear, especially given your profession. Hopefully they'll recover with time.

    Best, Derek

  10. Sorry to hear the healing is going so slowly. An Occupational Therapist may be of help in figuring out workarounds for tasks which are affected. I am developing neuropathy and contractures in my hands; I understand the sense of loss in such a situation.

  11. Dang,
    that's not good but it may still come back. I had to go to electroshock therapy to keep my muscles and stimulate the nerves. After 9 months if came back – so good luck!

  12. You know, I was just thinking about you last night with the intent of asking about your hand this morning. I assume you are going to physical therapy? I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand (the nerves were seriously pinched) and recovery was much slower than usual. Many of the exercises were chosen to help the nerves to function again. The one I hated most was having to find, without looking, marbles mixed in a bucket with large dried beans. I don't think five months is quite enough recovery time. I certainly hope your hand recovers enough for you to continue your work. I like Gentleman's suggestion in that you might talk to your Dr. about a Ten's (sp?) Unit. With a prescription, insurance may pay for it as for me. The Unit has come in handy after cervical fusion surgery last April. So if you can get one, hang on to it.

  13. Damnation! I´m wishing you my best and all I can say, keep trying to keep the injured nerves active, even if it takes meddling from occupational therapists.
    Luckily for you, you are young and nerves can take up a long time to develop so despite likelihoods of this world- in the end there´s no knowing if and when you might get sensation.
    As you don´t know me, here´s some background. My shoulder dislocated ( tore up the labrum )and had surgery where they drilled some nifty screwes and tied the thing back together with threads. The threads gave up and now the other arm is 6,5 cm´s longer than the other. It´s permanently dislocated with hellish pain and I´m going to have to live with this situation for the rest of my life. I´m also on disability from my job as a professional dress- maker.
    So you have my deepest sympathies and well- wishes!

  14. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way, Jeffery. Hoping for a full recovery real soon. God Bless.


  15. So sorry to hear about the slow recovery – it must be so frustrating!! 🙁 Don't give up hope; the human body is indeed miraculous and adaptable; I know you'll find a way to do the things you love again, one way or another 🙂

  16. You might like to try a homeopathic remedy – Hypericum – available online from, e.g. Hahnemann Labs, or the retail pharmacy C.O. Bigelow in NYC. Try taking the 3-5 pellets of the 1M potency about 3 nights in a row before bed/first thing in the morning, at least 0.75 hours before or after food/any drinks/strong taste, dispensing from bottle cap (not touching with fingers). Hypericum is a well known nerve remedy, especially in fingers and other nerve-rich areas. It can't hurt, in your situation. Good luck.

  17. So sorry to hear of your injury. Devastating for one in your position, though your knowledge is such a treasure and so important to the survival of these skills. Please stay with it. Everyone is right, nerves take a long time to repair, but they can; ask any woman who has had a cesarean. They told me it could be around 6 months, and it was. It also creates weird sensations as they reconnect. Best of luck on your continued healing, and thank you so much for sharing your considerable knowledge base.

  18. Jeffery, Nerve damage is horribly s-l-o-w. I suffered some a couple of years ago in my neck/hairline and it took months for the feeling to come back- but it did. Have you thought of trying Chinese exercise balls? I rotate 3 in each hand every night to stave off arthritis type cramps and I think they work and make me sleep more soundly. I think the plain silver are better than the painted ones(which are mostly decorative). They come in different sizes and may be worth $20 to give them a try. All the best, kyle

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  20. I'm generally not inclined to comment on blogs I read, I do have some first-hand experience regarding severed nerve regrowth, which I hope will be of some use to you.

    I had a fairly severe underbite growing up, and had it corrected about 7 years ago, which entailed upper jaw surgery that severed a nerve that connected to one section of my upper lip and connecting gum area. I thought I'd have to deal with the numbness for the rest of my life, but it has regrown. It took most of that 7 years, but it has pretty much fully grown back and I don't notice any numbness at all anymore.

    So, odds are that your nerve will indeed grow back, it will just take a bit of time. Best wishes!

  21. Hi, I pop by from time to time, I find your blog very interesting. I read this entry few days ago and just could not stop thinking about you, I cannot imagine not to be able to enjoy my hobby, or, in your case, your profession!

    I am sure that by now you have found a solution, but just in case, I would like to offer a suggestion. I have tried many finger protectors and one of my favourites is Aunt Becky Finger Protector. It is a v-shaped metallic thingy you place on your fingers, sideways or on the fingertips. It is marketed for quilters but I use it for appliqué also. Because it is metallic, you can feel the needle when it gets trough the fabric, and with practice you can control your stitches.

    I hope you hand recovers soon!

  22. fwiw, I had some wrist surgery, (as well as some inadvertent finger surgery,) and most of the feeling eventually returned. though it took a while and I had to spend a bit of time deliberately poking myself in the numb areas every day. you can (to a degree) retrain nerves. look at your numb spot as you poke yourself (gently) with a needle. eventually you will be able to associate the new sensation with the action and eventually you'll retrain yourself to feel.

    it's a bit similar to learning how to use a tool without looking…

    good luck.

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