Monday, September 3, 2012

A little delay in the R2 refit !

Well I haven't posted any blog updates for a few weeks, so let's catch up.

Back in June I had decided to take R2-D2 apart completely because I noticed a slight wobble and pronounced squeak in the lower shoulder area.  It turns out that the modifications I had made to the frame was to blame.  The frame rod I had placed under each shoulder worked its way loose, thus the wobble and squeak.

My plan was to rebuild R2 with the newer design frame, the JAG v5 that my second R2 has.  I obtained some help from my friend Fred and his CNC machine to make new frame rings.  I could re-use the vertical frame rods from the original frame to the new one.

Then I started to completely dismantle the old frame and assemble the new one.  The frame rods are attached from the ends and have a threaded hole for the machine screw to fasten them.  I encountered a few that were pretty tough to move.  As I pieced the new frame together, I had one rod not go in correctly (cross thread), so I attempted to remove it.  I twisted and tugged and it wouldn't budge.  So I put both hands on it and attempted to crank it loose.

I heard a pop and thought the frame rod had finally come out.  Then I noticed my left hand, mostly my thumb.  Below the knuckle on down to the joint with the hand, it was extremely swollen and turning blue.  It didn't hurt...but I also couldn't move it.  I paused, went upstairs for an ice pack and iced it for a few minutes.  When I noticed it wasn't improving, I texted a nurse friend for advice.  After a few messages, it was pretty obvious a trip to the Emergency Room was in order.

As I walked out to my car, ice pack in hand, it dawned on me that my Honda Civic and its manual transmission might be a bit much to handle.  I opted to take the Odyssey (minivan) instead, with its automatic transmission making the one handed drive a lot easier.

Now we've all made a trip to the Emergency Room in the late evening.  We expect a huge line, a wound that isn't as bad as it really is, get a splint and an ibuprofen and call it a night.  That's truly what I expected.  As I checked in and waited in the waiting room, I noticed that the wound was still extremely swollen.  I've never broken a bone but based on what I know about the symptoms, this didn't meet them.

Explaining to the triage nurse, then the PA, and then the radiology staff what happened was memorable.  I explained, very matter of factly, that I was working on my R2-D2's frame and heard my thumb pop when I tried to unthread a stuck frame rod.  It was priceless to watch them busily jot down notes and just stop completely.  (I'm sure many a transcriptionist had to do a double take, too).

The xrays came back with no break, which wasn't good news, they told me.  The PA gently moved my thumb side to side, THAT hurt.  He grimaced and said it looked like Gamekeeper's Thumb and I will have to see the hand specialist.  Since it was late (11:30pm), they wanted me to see him at 8am.

I went hope in a splint and pain meds I couldn't take or I'd never wake up in time for the hand specialist.

At 8 I was at Bangor Plastic and Hand.  I've been here a few times before, I burned my left hand as a baby and Dr. Branch has done some procedures to improve range of motion in that hand.  I got right in and after he numbed up my hand and thumb (with the biggest needle ever!), he started to examine and move it around.  Since I love needles and already felt awesome, I wasn't looking.  However, based on the expressions of his assistant, it was really messed up.  He explained the injury and what was involved with repairing it.  

And I was only slightly nervous, up until I was being scheduled for surgery the next day and words like "pin" and "anchors" were mentioned.  They noticed I was fading out and getting really pale, so they decided to lay me down.   After some paperwork, it was off to work to and inform them of what's going on.

The next day, I had the surgery to repair the torn ligament in my hand.  

Post Op, nice cast, don't you think?

Since its a ligament, it will be a really slow heal.  That will certainly put a damper on some of the things I planned to do to my droids. 

Since surgery, I am now in a much smaller cast that protects the thumb from the base to the knuckle.  Physical Therapy has begun and just simple tasks like making a "4" hand sign or touching the tips of my fingers is still a challenge.

However...despite the injury, I have still been at it.  I've basically grabbed up parts and pieces from the second R2 to re-build the first.  Plus many tweaks I have wanted to do.

Using the 232 system from the second droid, white backplate behind arms, new small speakers behind vents....
Charging port version 1 being tried out
 More soon!