Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Saga of My Borked Wrist

It was the morning of October 22.  It was a Sunday, an unassuming kind of day.  I was in sunny Orlando, assisting with a series of Anatomy of the Eyeball workshops for JCAHPO.  I thought it was going to be a good day.

Partway through the morning, my left wrist ached a bit.  I rubbed it and thought little of it until I realized that it was my left wrist.  There is generally nothing wrong with my left wrist.  My right wrist randomly hurts because back in 1997, I FOOSHed (Fall On OutStretched Hand) while doing pickups in tap class.  I was in casts/braces/splints for the better part of a year, and it took several years for me to be able to write for more than five minutes or so without pain.

I thought it was odd, but went on with my day, doing the workshops, then going out for drinks with some of the nice people I met at the conference.  The next morning, I slept in, then packed up my bags and headed down to get my car.  My bags were heavy, but I carried them all on my left shoulder, so that my right hand was free to fish out my valet stub and pull the suitcase.  I thought nothing of this.

The following morning, Tuesday, I hurt.  A lot.  My shoulder was in excruciating pain, my wrist felt like someone was scraping a serrated blade along the inside of the skin, and my index finger and thumb felt as if I had slammed them in a car door.  It sucked.  I figured it was because of the heavy bags, so I took some Tylenol, and went on my way.

By Thursday, I wanted to either cry or throw up, the pain was that bad.  So I talked to one of the doctors I work for, and he prescribed a course of steroids.  It helped a bit, but my index finger was still swollen and purple at the end of the six days, so I made an appointment with a hand doctor.  This was just over a week after the first ache.

He poked and prodded and x-rayed.  My wrist wasn't broken, which didn't surprise me because I didn't do anything to it.  He wanted an MRI, to see if there was a ganglion or other soft tissue issues.  He prescribed a wrist brace to use as needed, which I used daily at first, then occasionally once I realized I couldn't do my job with it on. Two weeks, and much pain, later, I got my MRI (last Thursday).

Today, I got the results.  Normal.  REALLY?  On the bright side, no rheumatoid arthritis, no lupus, no tears in tendons or ligaments.  On the not bright side, the pain is still there.  He poked and prodded some more and declared that the pain at the base of my thumb is due to 'severe laxity' in my joints.  He demonstrated on my good hand by moving my carpals around, and bending my finger backwards.  Apparently, normal hands don't bend like mine.  Makes sense, given that I can also mildly dislocate my shoulders on command.

So to treat that part, I've got a new splint, which I should wear all the time for 2-3 weeks, and if that doesn't help, I'll get a cortisone shot, and if that doesn't help, there's a surgical option, but I'd rather not do that if I can avoid it.  Did I mention that I can't take NSAIDs?  Yeah, makes the inflammation (which causes the pain) a little harder to deal with.

And that doesn't explain why my index finger is still all purple and swollen and cold, so next up is a non-invasive vascular assessment, which will require more waiting, and if that doesn't give us any answers, the next step is angiography, which is more invasive than the non-invasive test.


So.  To sum up, I'm in pain, and it sucks.

Stay tuned.