I'm sorry to hear of your problem.
Your experience of fogging out on the details is a very common one.
Once the worry of how serious a condition is, and that surgery is needed, it is almost impossible to concentrate on every word and retain it.
You may want to request a copy of the assessment from your doctor's office to make sure you have all the details, and you have them straight. (If your doctor dictates all her notes, it may take several days for the transcription to be completed, then for him to review it and it get into your chart.)
Critical to whether you need surgery is whether there is a gap between the scaphoid and lunate bones of the wrist, as indicated by the red arrow in the x-ray below:
If such a gap is found, then it indicates that there is a complete (grade 3) tear in the ligament connecting the two bones and that surgery is indicated.
I found the above at the following hand surgeon's web site from a Google image search, but his explanation of the problem and why and how treatment is carried out seems quite clear and direct: http://ericksonhandsurgery.com/patie..._ligament_tear
Another good site for information appears to be sportsmd http://www.sportsmd.com/articles/id/...ent_tear_.aspx
You may be interested in reading all of this thread on a weightlifting site, but here is one response:
"Just had this surgery
I had the same problem as you. I tore the same ligament while deployed last year. It took nearly a year and 6 doctors to get a proper diagnosis and only found it during exploratory surgery. They cut open my hand and repaired the ligament and put in a couple of pins in my hand. I'm in a cast for 2 months and then a couple months of therapy.
The most important thing is to find the best hand surgeon you can. You will likely regret it if you don't. Mine was the head of the hand and wrist clinic at Vanderbilt University Hospital. I should be able to start lifting again in 6 months. My other option was living with pain and lifting light for the rest of my life. I wasn't even given the other options. This was the only course of action they wanted to take. They expect a full recovery. So, you can try to live with the pain and in 6 months wish you had the surgery or you can take action. Please take my word for it when I say find the best dr. you can. It makes a huge difference. Since it has been 4 months since you posted, maybe you did have something done. If not and you want updates on how well my recovery is going, I'll be happy to let you know.
I would echo getting a second opinion from a hand surgeon who does a lot of these repairs - likely you will have to go to a major medical center to get this.
(Maybe your surgeon does do a lot of these repairs - did you ask her?)
The reason for a second opinion also would be more than just to see someone else who could do the surgery. There might be a chance that an alternative for non-surgical repair is present.
Finally, you would be going into the office better armed with knowledge and in a better state of mind to have a real discussion and to ask questions, rather than being understandably floored as in your last appointment.
Another alternative is to reschedule another visit with the hand surgeon you already saw. Again, armed with more knowledge and in a better frame of mind could result in a much different kind of visit.