After teaching for 33 years, Anne Jochum, 64, Bettendorf, has found that in her retirement she can still learn new things, find beauty in the world around her, and express that wonder through her art.
“Painting has always really been a hobby for me,” says Anne, who taught 8th grade Language Arts in the Davenport schools. “And now I certainly have more time for it. I try to finish at least a new piece every month.”
It’s a schedule she can keep now, thanks to hand surgery that has allowed her to pursue what she loves most. “For years, I had this bump on the base of my left thumb joint and it just never went away — then it began to grow in size,” says Anne. “By the time I saw a hand surgeon, the bump was the size of a nickel, and since I’m left-handed, I couldn’t paint.”
What Anne had was a ganglion cyst that was preventing her from bending her thumb. Quad City ORA Orthopedics’ hand surgeon, Dr. James Lyles, says ganglion cysts are common, especially for people like Anne who work with their hands. “Ganglion cysts are like hernias of the joint capsule,” he explains. “We don’t know why they happen, but in general, we see them more often in active patients who use their hands. The cysts can also occur in fingers and toes. Anne’s cyst was really irritating her and causing her pain.”
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), ganglion cysts are the most common mass or lump found in the hand. They are not cancerous and, in most cases, are harmless. The fluid-filled cysts can quickly appear, disappear, and change size, and many do not require treatment. However, if the cyst is painful, interferes with function, or has an unacceptable appearance, they can be excised.
Dr. Lyles says in many cases, while ganglion cysts can eventually go away on their own, Anne’s was growing in size and was preventing her from pursuing her art. “Ganglion cyst surgeries are usually completed in under an hour,” he explains. “We always want to avoid surgery if we can, because it’s always best to be conservative. However in Anne’s case, it was time to remove it.”
The surgery was performed at Crow Valley Surgery Center, an outpatient surgical center specializing in orthopedics. “The actual surgery didn’t take very long,” recalls Anne. “I was under sedation for a short time, and after a brief recovery, I was back home within a few hours. Everyone at the center was so caring and attentive. It was a great experience.” Dr. Lyles says patients like Anne are usually in and out of surgery in about 30 minutes, and depending on the location of the cyst, they can expect to enjoy normal hand function about two weeks after the procedure.
Dr. Lyles, who is fellowship trained in hand and microsurgery, performs about 700-800 hand surgeries annually through ORA’s Hand Center of Excellence. He has a subspecialty focus on hand and elbow surgeries. “When it comes to hand surgeries, they can range from the simple to the complex, and we take great care with a patient’s hands,” he adds. For Anne, her surgery was successful and she was painting again about two weeks later. “Anne’s recovery was fantastic,” adds Dr. Lyles. “She is a testament to her craft. The fact that she was also very active beforehand really helped to shorten her recovery.”
Dr. Lyles, who moved to the Midwest after growing up on the East Coast, says he has, through his work at ORA, enjoyed meeting many local artists in the Quad Cities. “I am a huge fan of local artisans and the artists in our area are amazing.
“I have artwork from patients all over my house.” Dr. Lyles also received a handcrafted thank you note from Anne, too. “I drew him a card and sent it to him. Dr. Lyles was awesome. He took time to listen to me. He was completely professional, and I was so grateful to be painting again so quickly.”