Somewhere around 2005-2006 I went through an excruciating electrodiagnostic test that showed I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in both wrists. The doctor and I think it was caused by the way I sleep and not because of typing, texting, or even the repetitive motions of being a cashier (perhaps a combination but definitely because of my sleeping since it's the worst at night). I tend to sleep with my wrists bent so my hands are sort of tucked into me. The doctor told me to get wrist splints to wear at night. I did. It helped significantly.
After being diagnosed I would go through phases with my wrists - I'd have to wear my braces for months at a time and then I could go months without wearing them. Sometimes the pain would be bad enough I wore my splints to work. Other times I would have absolutely no pain and forget I had CTS in the first place.
For the past few months I've had to wear my braces every night and my wrists have been getting worse. It's been so bad that I wake up in the middle of the night with my hands burning, aching, and tingling... I would walk around rubbing my hands and arms, all the while crying because I didn't know what else to do. I tried pain meds but nothing helped. I wasn't sleeping more than 2 hours at a time and that certainly didn't help matters. It's probably the worst pain I have ever felt. Now I'm not waking up with that severe pain (I think largely in part because my mom suggested I use either Aspercreme or Arnicare and I took her advice). However, I still have constant pain, numbness and/or tingling in both hands. I still wear my braces at night and sometimes during the day.
Sometimes my CTS makes it difficult to do many everyday things such as shower, put on jewelry, and even unbutton my jeans. It also makes typing and texting a challenge. So yes, I am struggling some just to type this blog entry. Breaks are good.
I finally had to do something about my pain, so I saw my orthopedic doctor yesterday. He recommended surgery for my left hand. I was too scared to commit to surgery during my appointment, so I got an injection of cortisone. I'm still in pain from the shot - tingling, numbness, light burning sensation, and some pain up into my forearm. Since I'm left-handed, this had made normal tasks even more difficult than before the injection. I guess this is a trial run for the recovery from my surgery. Yes, that means I decided I will have the surgery. If I don't I can lose the use of my hand and that would be detrimental. If I do the worst that can happen is it doesn't work.
I will be calling on Monday to start the process to have surgery. My goal is to have it right before spring break so I will have the week to recover without having to take time off from work. The doctor says I should be recovered enough for regular "light" tasks within about a week but it could take a few months to have complete functionality back. My dad had this very same surgery and said he was already feeling better the very next day. He said once he got his stitches out it was feeling much better. This helps me feel better about the decision to have surgery.
I'm really scared to have surgery but I'm more scared to not have surgery.
So why am I writing about this on my blog about TMJ? It's my belief that they are related and my doctors support this claim to an extent. I know when my hands hurt, I tend to clench my jaw more often. When my jaw is hurting, I am more tense - in my neck, shoulders, and arms. Surely this affects my CTS. Maybe the surgery will fix my hand and and the stress relief from that will help everything else. I'm certainly hoping this surgery takes one invisible illness off my list.
Thought of the Day: "Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent." - Jean Karr
I believe this is true. Hope is powerful, just like all positive thoughts.