Friday, June 8, 2018

Carpal Diem

I tell ya, some days my hands just seize up, and I can hardly do a thing with them. I'd think it was just arthritis, except the pain isn't only in the joints.

Is it possible to get carpal tunnel syndrome from scratching lottery tickets? Or playing slot machines? Those slots are mainly push-button now. You have very few cranks to pull. But pushing buttons is a repetitive action. And scratching scratchers involves squeezing a coin.

When I coached volleyball in Cuba (Missouri), one of my best players had carpal tunnel surgery. It wasn't due to volleyball. I'm not sure WHAT it was due to. She played clarinet in the band, but I don't think carpal tunnel syndrome is an occupational hazard for clarinetists. She also came in late on more than one occasion, the pockets of her jean jacket filled with syringes. COW MEDICINE, people! She had to help her dad give the cattle shots before school. And in the summer, she hauled hay, because it was easy money and a good workout. That might have done it, right there. Lifting the square bales by the twine.

Anyhoo...when I worked at a junk store an insurance salvage store for a year, I think I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Undiagnosed officially, of course. Nobody who works in a junk store an insurance salvage store is going to spend money on carpal tunnel surgery. My job was cashier when needed on the weekends, and pricing during the week. Pricing was just what it sounds like. I wrote prices on the new merchandise. By hand. With a Sharpie.

Here's the thing about writing prices by hand. You have to grip the merchandise with one hand, while writing on it with the other. Your wrists are controlling your hands in a limited range of motion. Those tendons are tightened, holding your hands in position.

At night, I'd wake up in agony. The only way to make the pain bearable was to go to the kitchen and hold my hands up to the wrist in a bowl of ice water. Do you know how much holding your hands and wrists in a bowl of ice water hurts? Less than NOT holding your hands and wrists in a bowl of ice water, after a day of clenching them like claws, holding and writing on merchandise.

I think my self-diagnosis, even before the internet, was spot-on. Once I quit working there to go back to teaching after finishing my master's degree...that pain stopped. Now I feel like it's trying to creep back. Not nearly as bad. Yet. I hope that's not it.

At some points in your life, surgery is no big deal. You're young. You heal fast. You adapt. The pain doesn't even bother you that much. When you're in high school, for instance. When you're old, you avoid surgery with a passion. How can you even wipe your own butt? Carry a 44 oz Diet Coke?

Is the fear of surgery worth stopping lottery scratching and slots? I don't think so.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I'm sure Farmer H would be glad to wipe your butt.


Hillbilly Mom said...

I think not. Thus all the "You should go into a nursing home" talk. A couple days ago, he re-evaluated. "We've got to get you into REHAB. A nursing home costs too much. So it has to be called REHAB, even if it's in a nursing home."

fishducky said...

OK, he probably wouldn't wipe your butt, but wouldn't he carry your 44 oz Diet Coke?

River said...

If you ask me It's definitely carpal tunnel syndrome. anything repetetive will do it. I've had it for years and found that sleeping with a brace that prevents the hands from curling inwards as I sleep helps a lot. It's much worse in the early stages of winter and eases a bit when I'm acclimatised to the weather change.
I've been having trouble a lot this week with aching everything and painful hands with pins-and-needles in the fingertips overnight. All due to carpal tunnel syndrome of course.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Not unless asked, and then it would be grudgingly.

Thank you, Dr. River. I KNEW that's what it is! Not that a proper internet diagnosis makes either of us hurt less...