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Dept. of Pain

Give the Lady a Big Hand. Or a Healthy One. Or Two.

     Do you know how easy it is to type with a wrist splint support on one hand and a thumb splint support on the other?
     No, really; do you know? Because I sure as hell don't.
     Remember that bad cold I had three weeks or so back? Well, coming out of it, I realized that my hands hurt a lot. I figured it was an unpleasant mash up of minor arthritis and the cold; something to whine about but nothing more.
     It turns out that that isn't quite the case.
     The cold went away. The pain didn't.
     It got worse. It also became rather multifaceted, if one can say that about pain. First, every joint from the wrists down ached, all the time; general arthritic fun, bone crunches included. Then I developed what felt like a wicked sprain in my left thumb ('Aha!' I cried, "Can't be carpal tunnel, because I don't mouse with that thumb!') and then, later, in my right thumb — and by sprain I mean that if I moved either thumb while moving my wrist, I sent a white hot knitting needle into the base of my thumb and pushed it four inches up the side of my forearm for 2 seconds.
     The least painful, but most troubling thing, was the tingling and numbness I had in three or four of my right fingers and, to a lesser extent, in the same fingers on my left hand.  I'd had occasional flareups of this years ago, whilst driving on the job. I'd attributed it to clenching the steering wheel too tightly, and thought no more about it.
     Now, however, it began happening any time I raised my hands higher than my heart, which makes washing my hair interesting, to say the least. And several times, the numbness has come with apparent lack of circulation — it's amazing how yellowy-white your skin looks without that healthy pink "blood's reached the proper place" glow.
     You have to understand that I have long been used to pain. Headaches and I go back 45 years, for instance. I hate it, and it's interfered with my life, you betcha. But I am not used to moving my hands and crying out because it hurts so much to do so. I'm not used to being unable make a fist because it hurts too much. I'm not used to seeing my fingertips look and feel dead.
     So off to the doctor I went. And, yeah, it's probably wear and tear-induced arthritis, plus carpal tunnel syndrome in the right hand. The doctor referred me to a rehabilitation specialist that day, set me up for x-rays and an electromyography test, and drained a little bit of blood. She put me on Celebrex, plus prescription Prilosec, to keep the Celebrex from putting holes in my stomach. (Celebrex apparently does that far less often than the naproxen I've been eating for three weeks, but because I've had a couple of ulcerific moments in the past, she wants me to use the Prilosec , too.)
     The next night, the doctor called me at home. She's now referred me to a rheumatologist. Why? Because there's an element in my blood that's elevated, an elevation that can sometimes signal the possibility of things like Lupus. It's almost certainly not that, she said quickly. But ... almost certainly doesn't make me feel good. I really wish she'd practiced truly old-fashioned medicine, by not telling me quite that much.
     The Celebrex may be working; my hands don't hurt today. Much. 




( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)

Good for you for taking that Off to the Doctor step. Here's to healing, and to useful outcomes from the follow-up with the rheumatologist.

Prilosec is a wonder drug in my book. (So said I pretty much every day of the first three weeks of taking the stuff.)
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've taken Prilosec before, the two-week regimen, and it works nicely. I've never had to take it on a daily basis before, but if it allows me to take the Celebrex, and if the Celebrex helps keep the pain in my hands to a minimum (somehow, I don't think I'll be completely free of pain) then it's all worth it.

And I have to remember there are people out there who deal with much more pain all the time, who do it with far less whining. Heh.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:20 am (UTC)
Oh, ugh, that just sounds miserable! I hope the celbrex works, and the rheumatologist can figure out what's going on.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Thanks; I'm busy being optimistic!
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
Sending good thoughts. :)
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
Cripes, hope it's just something simple. Hand pain is so fun. Feel better!
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:31 am (UTC)
Thanks; if it's just wear and tear arthritis, I can work on improving my posture and typing habits. That, plus hand supports and the meds, might be all I need.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
Yikes! That sounds incredibly painful. I hope the treatment continues to work, and that the rheumatologist finds nothing additional to worry about!
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for the good thoughts; I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Or I would, except that it hurts a bit. Heh.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry you're in that kind of pain. I really hope your treatment is effective and there's nothing else to be added on top of it all!
Jun. 11th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
I appreciate your kind words, and boy, oh boy, do I share the sentiment!
Jun. 11th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
Speaking as someone who's spent at least 15-20 days per month of the past decade on Planet Fibromyalgia (and as a 40-year career musician who no longer plays any instrument at all because my muscles are too fubared), you have my knowing sort-of sympathy.

This may have no use or relevance whatsoever, but...about five years ago I developed a mystery dysfunction in my right shoulder, similar-sounding to what you've described, following a mild cold/flu-like illness. And when I say 'dysfunction', what I mean is 'I'm glad I was home alone so no-one could hear me screaming every time I tried to move, because I have a notably high pain tolerance and am sooo not a screamer' o_O Eventually I managed to ring my husband at work, and he rang a family friend who's a myotherapist; she came over post-haste, tried a few things, and then asked me how I felt about acupuncture. Since I happen to be quite fond of needles, I told her to go ahead. And the short version is that it gave me lasting and permanent relief. Fecked if I know why - maybe she hit the right ganglion, maybe it tweaked something in my brain (after all, we run Windoze on our wetware, so to speak, so who knows what affects what down deep in the core) - but all I'm saying is that there might be a possibility that acupuncture might help you.

Apart from that - salmon. Fresh. Frequently. It has pretty much the lowest mercury take-up rate of all edible oily fish, and all that fish oil is great for the joints. Just sayin' :-)
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
I definitely appreciate your knowing sort-of sympathy, and the fact that you extend it to me. I also appreciate what you say about acupuncture. While I may not be fond of needles, I have no problem with them; acupuncture appears to have more than a little scientific validity, even if researchers aren't quite certain how it works. And personally, my mother has made use of acupuncture (it may have been an attempt to help her quit smoking, but what I remember now is that she regarded the effort positively.) I'll certainly ask both the rehab doctor and the rheumatologist.

Fish, on the other hand ... Fish and I have a complicated and somewhat spiky relationship, born of a childhood in which unpleasantly prepared fish was a mandatory staple of my diet. I enjoy sushi these days, and I enjoy the occasional meal of the most meat-like fish (trout, and, yes, salmon), but more than occasionally? Probably won't happen. I might be able to work in the fish oil capsules, on the other hand.
Jun. 11th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
Ow. And scary.

lilacsigil went down the same path - pain, raised markers, rheumatologist. It turned out that while her brother got psoriasis, she got psoriatic arthritis. It's not a very big deal - once she'd treated that flare-up, it receded down to nearly nothing, and only occasionally flares up again. (So infrequently that she generally doesn't remember why her toes or wrists might be aching.) So, don't panic about the raised markers - it isn't necessarily anything dire.

So, so seconding penguin2 on the fish oil. I take a supplement, myself, because I can't really eat fish that often.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Now you have me thinking. My brother has moderate to severe psoriasis, and has had to have several significant multi-week or month regimens of everything from coal tar baths to ultraviolet lights and strong meds in order to control it. Perhaps I should mention that to the docs when I see them. Thanks for the kind thoughts, and for the info!
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:05 am (UTC)
Hope it's better fast.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Ouch!
Thanks — you and me both! (The Celebrex may be doing its job already, so I'm hopeful.)
Jun. 11th, 2010 11:41 am (UTC)
::hugs:: I hope you feel so much better soon!
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
Hugs and wishes gratefully accepted!
Jun. 11th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
Crap. I am sorry to hear about your hands.

The part about having trouble lifting your hands over your head does not sound good at all.
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It is kinda crappy. Oddly, though, I hadn't even thought about going to the doctor until the tingling became almost as constant as the pain. That was what drove me to the phone to make an appointment.
Jun. 11th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear.

((And I give up -- what does a Peruvian folk band look like?))
Jun. 11th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Heh — that's simple; it looks like one alien, one transplanted and adventuresome Scotswoman with abandonment issues, and one very nice Englishman who loves the Scotswoman and is less than impressed by the alien.

Wearing ponchos.
Jun. 11th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that a poncho helps with abandonment issues. I will definitely keep that in mind next time I need to abandon an issue.
Jun. 12th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
Jun. 11th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
Owwwch. That sounds so Not Fun, poor you - and potentially quite a professional nuisance in your position, too. (medium-term might it be worth experimenting with dictation software just to cut down the typing a little? Or are you one of those people (like me) who can write on the page but not out loud?

As everyone's said, here's hoping the rheumatologist and the tests nail the cause(s) and most effective treatment pronto.
Jun. 12th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
Thanks! And actually, my Best Beloved has been working with Dragon Naturally Speaking intermittently for his own purposes; he mentioned putting it onto my laptop the other day. I have been able to dictate, or partly dictate, stories in the past. If I'm really on my game — or on election nights. If I can control the pain with meds and splints, though, I'd be much happier.
Jun. 12th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so sorry! My rheumatologist also tests the C4, C5, and Alt and so forth, but although they're elevated, they're not dangerous yet. That's good because I can't take things like Celebrex. I sure hope the Celebrex brings yours down and makes your hands less painful!
Jun. 12th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
Thanks for the good wishes. Only two of seven markers appear t be elevation, and only one of those seems to be extremely elevated; I imagine I'm not really in too much danger. So far, the Celebrex seems to be keeping my fingers from stiffening up to the horrid extent they'd been subject to in recent days.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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