Saturday, January 7, 2017

Afghan #47 (And An Update On My Hand)

I finished this afghan today, a simple double crochet pattern from Easy Crocheted Accessories.  
This is my first afghan since April of last year, and arguably the hardest I've ever made. Why the delay? Why the struggle? To put it concisely, I've been having problems with my hand.
It all started after a restful Thanksgiving weekend of crocheting and movie-watching in November 2015. I had some numbness and tingling in my right hand, wrist, and forearm. It was a little hard for me to crochet, type, grasp, etc. Mom noticed my issues over Christmas break and told me to go to the doctor. She had struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome for years until finally getting corrective surgery.

So when I returned home to Arkansas, I went to see an orthopedic doctor and told him I thought I had carpal tunnel. He sent me for an EMG test and when the results came out "normal," he declared that I didn't have carpal tunnel syndrome and should see a neurologist if I had further concerns. I decided to let it go.

Fast forward nearly eight months to Arizona, and I still had problems. My hand clenched at odd times. My pinkie hurt. Pain radiated up my arm into my shoulder when I tried to crochet. I got to where I had to chicken peck with my index finger instead of typing with my whole hand.

Things got a little better when my place of work purchased a standing laptop desk for me. The desk inclines up, and seems to take pressure off my hand a little bit. The problems still didn't go away, though.

Once I got health insurance with my new job, I called to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. That doctor wouldn't accept me as a new patient without a primary care physician's referral. So I called and got accepted as a new patient at a local clinic. When that nurse practitioner saw me, she declared that I didn't have orthopedic problems, but rather neurological ones (just like the first doctor). She ordered a brain MRI and referred me to an neurologist. Thankfully, the brain MRI came back normal (other than inflamed sinuses from a cold), but I had to wait until Christmas break to see the neurologist.

The neurologist I saw is a good one. He took time with me and did all kinds of neuromuscular tests. He declared that he thinks I have task-specific dystonia, but would rule out other conditions first. He put me on some medicine for a day and a half that didn't help my hand, but did make me feel woozy and nauseous. I had an MRI of my neck yesterday. The next step is to try shooting my hand with Botox to relax the muscles and try to retrain my brain into correctly operating my limb. I hope and pray that it works. There's a chance that it won't, but if it does, it probably won't last.

On the one hand, it's discouraging to receive a diagnosis for my hand issues that isn't curable. On the other hand, it is good that the cause of my symptoms isn't more major, or even life-threatening. God has blessed me with relatively good health overall.

I miss crocheting for hours on end, but the purchase of an ergonomic crochet hook has enabled me to do a little more than I used to, and with less pain. If I have to deal with this the rest of my life, God will help me.

For those of you who wanted an update, here it is. To those of you struggling with chronic health issues, hats off to you, and I empathize, even if it's in the tiniest way possible.

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