Three and a half digits of numbness

I’m at the doctor’s office.  My hand feels fine.

Last week, it hurt like hell.

Background.

Last week, I woke up and my left hand didn’t.  My thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of my ring finger felt numb and weak.

Okay, okay, I get it.  I probably slept wrong the night before.  You know… that feeling when your leg is still asleep while the rest of your body is wide awake…

But this was weird.  Very weird.

I’m not used to this.  Not in the least.  What’s going on?

An hour.  Two hours.  My hand ached.

And I did what everybody else would do in the 21st century.

I looked up my symptoms online.

And the first thing I saw was a graphic of a hand; three and a half of the fingers were shaded.  And under the graphic was this caption…

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.”

Yikes.

I can’t have that happen to me.  Not now.  Please, Lord, not now.

I use my hands for everything important in my life.  Typing.  Lifting.  Focusing.  Gesturing.  Holding.  Cooking.  Flipping off idiot drivers who find ways to cross four lanes on I-787 when I-787 is only three lanes wide.

I had visions of what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome would mean to me.  Surgery.  Recovery.  A left hand that didn’t function as well as it used to.  And yes, people, I’m left handed.

A quick stop to the pharmacy, and I purchased a wrist stabilizer.  Wrapping it around my hurt hand, I kept thinking to myself… this can’t be possible.  This can’t be happening to me.  Not now.  Not when I’ve gotten this far.

Okay, Miller, stop freaking out.  You can diagnose yourself as having everything from The Andromeda Strain to cooties with a Google medical search.  Only one way to make sure things are fine.

My medical insurance had several in-network doctors who specialize in hand surgery and therapy.  Here’s one.  Doctor Manos.  The Hands of Fate are pointing at me.  No, that’s not his real name, but I have a HIPAA-compliant weblog here.

One phone call later, and I had an appointment.

In the days leading up to the appointment, I wore the wrist brace – mostly at night while I slept.  And by the next day, my hand seemed to feel fine.  It wasn’t as numb.

But I still worried.

And Friday morning, after filling out some forms… I saw Dr. Manos.

He did some exercise tests on my wrist and hand.  I explained my symptoms and what I did during my self-diagnosis.

“You’ve done the right things so far,” he said.  “And your pain isn’t coming back?”

“No.”

“Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do.  I’m not going to recommend that you have a nerve test yet, just because I don’t want to put you through that until we are certain that carpal tunnel syndrome is what you’re experiencing.”

“Okay…”

“But I want you to make sure you take care of yourself.  You need to take some breaks in your day.  Even five minutes, leave your routine and take a walk.  Just relax.”

I can handle that.

“And if the pain does come back, give me a call.  We’ll monitor things.  You will be fine.”

Smile.

And i do have to tell you, my hand feels fine today.  Heck, I’m typing this weblog, that’s at least some sort of notice.  And today, I’m going to take an out-and-back one-day vacation just to rest my weary mind.

Just a little peace of mind.

I guess I need it more than I thought I did.

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5 thoughts on “Three and a half digits of numbness”

  1. Poor you, I feel for you, as the not-feeling numbness is very familiar to me. CTS surgery survivor here to assuage your fears! (And I am hoping you won’t need surgery, but honestly, it was not bad at all.) Mine CTS was present but only mildly so, so much so, I did not realize what it was. One evening I was walking the dog in the dark, stepped in a pothole and came down HARD on my right hand and wrist. GOOD NEWS: 57 year old lady bones did not break. YAY! BAD NEWS: 57 year old lady wrist develops severe and acute CTS. I did avoid surgery for awhile, but in the end I had no choice. (And yes, it was my right hand.)

    So do what the man says, relax, take a walk, take lots of breaks from using your hand, just short ones, but important times for it to stop. PT and OT can help, so can icing. I also used an essential oil which was very helpful to me in terms of mild relief. Also, I would ice my wrist fairly often, for short periods of time. The whole thing just had me slow down in a bit that was necessary.

    Hang in there, it is our modern malady. May all be well!!

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  2. Haha! This MSTie love the “Manos” reference!

    Dr. Manos sounds like a very good doctor. Years ago, I saw an orthopedic surgeon who hustled me into physical therapy when my left wrist started turning red and swelling up like a balloon. The PT only made it worse, which may have been the goal. Then the doctor could have diagnosed CTS, and operated. Cha-Ching! $$$$

    I sought out a second opinion from another orthopedic surgeon–a brilliant man, near retirement, who had put my mom’s leg bag together after a bad fall. This doctor realized inflammation was the problem, and PT was the worst thing for it. He referred me to a rheumatologist, who eventually diagnosed psoriatic arthritis. I never needed surgery. The rheumatologist gave me drugs that have so far spared my joints from major deterioration.

    Your Dr. Manos sounds like an honest doctor who is trying to help you, not himself. 🙂

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  3. I got CTS when I went to grad school in 1990/91. I just had to stop using my right hand for a while. Even played racquetball w the left hand. It resolved itself in a few weeks, no meds or PT or surgery.

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  4. 1st – stay off WebMD…everything on there is terminal. 2nd – it’s probably arthritis,,,you are getting pretty old.

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