QC Crafter Brings Joy to the Season

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Santa’s elves have nothing on Lydia Ogle, 53, Bettendorf, Iowa. From handmade wreaths, flower arrangements, and holiday doorhangers, to crocheted pillows and intricate beading on tree ornaments, Lydia’s personal touch for her one-of-a-kind gifts is back, following years of tendonitis and pain in her wrist and thumb.

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Lydia loves making handmade Christmas ornaments.

Busy hands make a happy heart

“I’ve been crafting my whole life. My hands have to be busy. If I see something, my first thought is, ‘I can do that!’ On a daily basis, I can sit down for five to six hours straight — crafting is such a joy for me. If I’m not crafting in my studio, then I’m crocheting in my lap. I’m always making something for someone!”

Lydia’s joyful avocation is a gift, but as with life, there are ups and downs. Over the years, she has suffered from tendonitis, experiencing excruciating pain in her right hand, so much so that crafting became almost impossible.

In the last decade, she has undergone three surgeries. “My wrist hurt so bad I couldn’t control my thumb. It was so weak, I couldn’t grab a pen, so threading a needle was impossible.”

The pain kept her from the things she loved

As the years progressed, so did the scar tissue, along with a shooting pain, that most recently reached her elbow. “I couldn’t do anything with my hand, and the pain was so bad I had to go to the ER, where they referred me to ORA Orthopedics.”

Tobias Mann M D
Dr. Tobias Mann, ORA Orthopedics

At ORA, she saw Dr. Tobias Mann, a fellowship-trained hand surgeon who ordered an MRI. “Her pain was limiting her activity and ability to do crafting. She has suffered what we call ‘tendonitis,’ which is an inflammation around tendons, and in her case, inflammation in a narrow tunnel where the tendons run to her thumb.

In medical terms, her condition is diagnosed as, “De Quervein’s stenosis tenosynovitis,” which is a specific form of inflammation in the tendon tunnel that shrinks and painfully compresses the tendons leading to the thumb.

“Her scar tissue had built up in the radial sensory nerve, which is located on the thumb side of the wrist. This is the nerve that gives you sensation to the back of your hand and the space between the thumb and index finger.

“Because she had two surgeries before, I performed a revision surgery in order to clear the scar tissue and open up the scarred tendon tunnel. It’s not common for tendonitis to return after surgery, but it can happen naturally.”

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Lydia enjoys crafting year-round, but shares that this hobby is extra special around the holidays.

A surgical solution relieved the pain

Lydia says her outpatient surgery and rehab made all the difference. “Before the surgery, I couldn’t open a jar or a soda bottle. I couldn’t get a grip. It’s been about three months, and now I can do anything!”

Grinch close up

“I am very pleased with Lydia’s outcome,” adds Dr. Mann. “Her positive outlook and desire to get back to crafting absolutely aided in her successful healing. Positive and motivated patients typically heal well, especially when they complete their physical therapy and are compliant with post-surgical recommendations. That’s our goal, that all patients return to what moves them.”

Lydia’s gratitude for Dr. Mann’s surgery inspired her, of course, to create a unique gift for her hand surgeon. “His was my third surgery, so now I literally have a scar in the shape of a ‘Z.’”

“Yes, my surgery formed the bottom of the letter ‘Z,’ and I now have a wonderfully hand-made keychain that always makes me smile.”

“I mean, how many patients have Zorro sign their wrist?,” laughs Lydia, as she keeps on busily crafting holiday mementos for those she cares for most.