Carpal Tunnel Chronicles

Important: This blog post is not about me looking for sympathy. I am absolutely fine. This is to share an experience that might encourage others who are battling with similar challenges to go and get professional help.

Symptoms

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • an ache or pain in your fingers, hand or arm
  • numb hands
  • tingling or pins and needles
  • a weak thumb or difficulty gripping

These symptoms often start slowly and come and go. They’re usually worse at night.

Google has lots of detailed information on this issue. Here is a link to the NHS UK that provides detailed information.

My symptoms were exactly as described above.

Before I get started, I thinks its worth mentioning that I am typing this blog less than 24 hours after surgery. I am not in any pain at this stage and I was encouraged by my surgeon to get active asap without being overly ambitious. He suggested that brick-laying would probably not be a good idea :).

Ouch!

Sore hands plague so many of us and interfere with the amount of time that we can spend crocheting. The more texture we introduce into our work, the harder it is on our hands. If a pattern calls for too many front post and back post stitches (as do most of my patterns) you may well end up with a dreaded Repetitive Stress Injury. My designs are all about texture so I really put my hands under severe stress. Add to that my Osteoarthritis and I have a recipe for disaster. I am in my 60’s so its pretty much all downhill from here. Taking extra care is very important. 

I absolutely cannot imagine not being able to crochet. It would be devastating to me both on a creative and mental health level. This article Published in the Plymouth Yarn Magazine is worth reading.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am very seldom without a hook and yarn in my hand. I am obsessed. I know that there are many of you out there who are the same. I am not able to sit and do nothing – its just not in my nature. Of course, this does result in injuries. The latest one being Carpal Tunnel in my left hand.

4 years ago I had a tendon released in my right hand which made a huge difference. With this success in mind I took the decision not to delay seeking professional assistance when my left hand started to give ongoing trouble.

As questions about RSI’s and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome come up frequently in crochet groups, I thought I might share my experiences. 

Bear in mind that I am not a doctor so anything I share here is purely from a layman’s perspective and chronicles my own experiences. If you are experiencing any problems with these types of injuries, I urge you to visit your own medical specialists and get professional assistance.

The visit to the orthopaedic surgeon

August 25, 2020

I have used the same orthopaedic surgeon for many years. He has worked on both my shoulders and also my right hand in the past. He is one of 4 brothers who are all orthopaedic surgeons. They practice in and around the Johannesburg area and are very well known. I will refer to my doc as Doctor “A”. Each of the brothers specialise in a different part of the body. His brother, Doctor “R” has replaced both my husband’s hips in the last few years. All surgeries to date have been very successful.

I visited Doctor “A” under the strict Covid-19 protocols in place at the hospital and in his consulting rooms. 

Doc pushed and prodded and agreed with my diagnosis – Yes, of course Dr Google was my first point of call – I did indeed have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

I was sent for X-rays to determine the progress of my osteoarthritis which is a chronic problem in addition to the Carpal Tunnel. We decided that Carpal Tunnel Surgery was the best course of action and that he would also take the opportunity to inject both hands to help with the arthritis while I was under sedation. 

Surgery was scheduled for Friday, August 28. 

Covid-19 Testing

August 26, 2020

I did have to test negative for Covid-19 before being allowed admission. I took the easy way out and had a laboratory service come to my home to do the test. I had the results in 6 hours. Negative – my 3rd negative test.

As an aside, it was interesting that the nurse who did the test said that they were very quiet. This is hopefully an indication that Covid-19 is starting to slow down. Let’s pray!

Surgery Day

August 28, 2020

Check-in was 7 a.m. The hospital was eerily quiet but I felt that I was in good hands from the reception admissions, to the nursing staff and into the theatre. Hubby had to drop me and go as he wasn’t allowed to accompany me because of Covid-19. 

I had 2 very nice ladies sharing a ward with me.

Sadly, one lady was there as a result of a home invasion by 3 perpetrators. She sustained a bad hand injury when they flung her into a wall. She is an elderly woman and was very traumatised by this experience. I really felt bad for her. Not sure how you get over something like this?

Of course, I took my latest crochet project along with me – I had to get in some final stitches before having to rest and recover. It’s still a secret project, so I won’t share pictures just yet. I kept busy until just after 9 a.m. when a very nice porter, who proudly announced his name to be Shakespeare, came to fetch me for theatre.

The surgery was done under sedation and with a local anaesthetic. I remember absolutely nothing after the drip was placed in my arm. I woke up in recovery. Sedation is far less traumatic than a general anaesthetic and I was wide awake almost straight away.

Shakespeare took me back to the ward. The drip was removed after I had a cup of tea and a very bland cheese and tomato sandwich. By 11 a.m. I was discharged. All in all a quick and easy procedure. 4 hours from admission to discharge!

My hand has been placed in a splint which stays on for 10 days. The splint is removed when the stitches are taken out.

No pain at all so far in my left hand ……. just swollen sausage fingers and an uncomfortable numb feeling. The numbness lasted for about 12 hours before the feeling slowly started to return to my fingers. When I woke up on Saturday morning my fingers are working again and I have very little discomfort. My right hand is a bit sore at the injection site. My left hand is a bit uncomfortable because of the bandage and splint, but really nothing to complain about. It’s a bit difficult to bath and dress myself, but again nothing I can’t handle.

Testament to how easy this procedure was is the fact that I have just typed up this whole blog post without any problems at all less than 24 hours after surgery. I am feeling good! Obviously my experience has been a very good one so far – it helps that I have excellent Medical Insurance. Not everyone will find it this easy. It’s worth noting that I do have a high pain threshold and I have had multiple major surgeries throughout my life. I’m an old hand (pun?) at this which does make it easier. It can be quite daunting if you are unfamiliar with being subjected to operations.

I will update this blog post if there is anything further worth sharing.

 

Thanks, as always, for your love and support.

Love & Light

Debbie


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