Re: Ulnar Shortening Surgery... how long is recovery?
I never got casted after my (ulna shortening, TFCC repair) surgery either, but my surgeon did put a hard splint along my wrist and arm underneath the bandages. About a week and a half later, my stitches were removed and so were the bandages. At that time I was fitted for a splint by the physical therapist, the kind that was molded/shaped to my arm (it was pretty cool). That same day I started PT where they began bending and twisting my wrist and worked on getting my range of motion back. I was also instructed to do those exercises at home without the splint. I was surprised that we were moving along so soon...honestly it didn't feel right because I was still in a lot of pain and I still had a LOT of swelling with little activity, which made the pain worse. Like you, I'm not a fan of painkillers... I have two young kids and anything with caffeine or codeine/narcotic ingredients give me really bad migraines. I weined myself off of them in less than a few weeks and went with Advil PMs at night, since the night time was when my pain was the worst. However, there were some days throughout the first few months that I took a Vicodin here or there after a tough session of PT.
In hindsight (it has been about 9 weeks since my surgery) it was good that we got moving along because only two months out I am almost back to normal activity. I've regained all but about 10% of my range of motion back in every direction and about 75% of my strength. I still have soreness and aching from time to time, especially when we get rain or snow. Just yesterday it rained, and I did something really simple like twist my arm to reach behind myself to grab a pillow and it felt like a lightning hit my arm right on the plate...I mean IT HURT...all day! So I'll have three or four really good days then out of the blue the smallest thing will remind me that I'm still recovering.
I'm no doctor, but I think that you should at least have a splint. It was very difficult for me to hold my wrist up for more than a few seconds without my splint for the first 3-4 weeks. I imagine that you must be in a lot of pain without any support, especially when taking care of your child. I can't count how many painful mishaps that I had when I did things without my splint. I wish had a splint recommendation, but I tried on one of my pre-surgery splints (purchased from the drug store) after my surgery, and it was very uncomfortable and even caused me pain. The molded splint was awesome, but if that's not an option for you, maybe try wrapping your wrist and arm with a bandage and place stiff just under your wrist and arm inside the bandage to help support it? Immobilizing your wrist does wonders for the pain!
I think that surgeons tend to think that just because there is a metal plate in there that everything is secure and stabilized, but they don't consider the pain and swelling of healing. Although my surgeon was accomodating, I had to stress to him the pain and discomfort I felt to get the time off work that I needed. And when he told me that I could throw away the splint I still continued to work and sleep in it for a few more weeks... until I was comfortable going without it.
Don't let the doctor tell you how you should feel...it's your body and your pain! And if he's that much of a jerk and won't help then maybe you should consult with a physical therapist or hand therapist who can put you in a splint and help you get more comfort...or get a second opinion from another doctor.
I pray that your recovery and healing gets better. God bless you!