Saturday, January 15, 2005

Attack of the carpal tunnel

It all started when I was in high school - my wrists would be sore, and then ache, and then, after I left them alone, they'd get better. In college I'd spend many hours at my un-ergonomic desk typing (papers, assignments, etc) and my wrists would hurt and I'd wake up in the middle of the night with hands that were numb. The feeling returned, but then they ached.

Fast forward to my last year of college and first appointment with my (now) doctor, and she put two and two together and diagnosed me with carpal tunnel syndrome. I resisted seeing a neurologist for almost a year, but finally gave in and made an appointment. He then, via some fancy electrodes and needles, confirmed that I had cts in both wrists, but more significant in the right. He said I was a good canidate for surgery in my right arm, but that I was young and he'd hold off a bit. At that point I'd lost up to 15% of my nerve conductance, but he promised me it'd come back if I wore my braces (always at night and during the day when I used my hands/wrists) and asked me to return for a follow-up a few months later.

That appointment was a year and a half ago, and I never made it back for the follow-up. Oops. I haven't been wearing my braces (it slows me down when I knit and my writing looks worse then it already does). I went through a stint where if I went to bed with them on, I'd wake up with them sitting on the floor (somedays they looked like they were just dropped there, but some days it looked like I'd thrown them across the room....) and finally just gave up wearing them.

Denial is a beautiful thing until someone gets hurt. In my case it was Friday morning during a particularly boring lecture. The familiar ache had started earlier in the week, but I brushed it off and knitted away - until a pain like no other clenched ahold of my arm and wouldn't let go. I left class to try and find some advil and my whole hand was purple and swollen. My wrist was hot and swollen, and for the rest of the day I took class notes with my left hand and could only look at my knitting. I'd have given anything for the brace and put it on as soon as I got home. Just having it stay in one position was a relief, and since then it's only come off to take a shower.

Classes and days at school are a lot longer when I can't knit. I've learned my lesson and will wear my brace and will consider calling the neurologist for another appointment. I have a doctors appointment this week and will mention what happened in hopes that she'll have some additional things I can try. In the meantime, I'm going to try and stay away from the needles for the rest of today, and see how tomorrow goes. I had no idea how traumatic this would be - it's hard not to have my hands busy with something. I like seeing progress on one of my million projects and don't like that it's all stalled.

Doctors are horrible patients but I think I've learned this lesson. Knit with a brace on. Or at least knit with a brace on when the aching starts......


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