Get a Grip: Week Six – Sigh

I’ve spent the last six weeks using a wrist splint to manage some sort of wrist/tendon issue.  It has been quite an experience.

Last week, I had a follow up visit with my PCP who basically countermanded all of the information his own urgent care colleauge had provided me during my initial visit. Sigh. So now I still might have carpal tunnel syndrome. Or not. Or some sort of nerve damage. Or not. I have to have another set of tests to determine what nerves and muscles might be involved.

Nerve conduction study (NCS)

 The NCS is the first part of this test.  It studies your nerves.  Small metal discs are taped on your skin based on the nerves that are going to be tested.  Then, a small electrical current is used to stimulate the nerve.  This electrical testing will be done on several nerves and may be done at different sites along the nerve.  The electrical current produces a tingling, slightly uncomfortable sensation.  The testing room may be darkened so that the electrical activity can be seen easily on a computer monitor.

 Electromyogram (EMG)

 The second part of this test is an EMG, which studies your muscles.  First, a small metal disc (about the size of a fifty-cent piece) will be taped to your skin.  Then, the EMG doctor will insert a small needle into your muscle in order to record your muscle’s electrical activity.  EMG testing may be done on several different muscles but each muscle is tested one at a time.  During the test, you will hear a crackling speaker sound.  This is the electrical activity from your muscles, which has been changed into sound waves.  You do not receive any electrical stimulation for this part of the test.  The EMG can be somewhat uncomfortable because of the small needle sticks.  For a day or two after the test, you may feel some tenderness or notice a small bruise around the sites where the needle was inserted.

So just another set of slightly uncomfortable tests, but as long as they involve drinking barium – I’m good. 🙂

I was shocked when my doctor did a set of strength tests in the office and I “failed” all of them – I’ve actually lost more strength in my right hand in spite of the splint. He told me that my left hand was almost strong enough to be considered my dominant hand even though I can’t write with it.

I can’t write at all. I hadn’t thought about this until Ledcat and I started Christmas card lists. I type most things with my thumbs and while I’ve had a few awkward moments of signing my name, I hadn’t really needed to grip a pen for any reason. She ended up writing the cards, but I sort of felt … disabled. I could pick up a pen and make some semblance of letters if I had to, but it wouldn’t really be legible. I couldn’t write a paragraph. That was shocking. I don’t even know how to begin training myself to write with my left hand – how do you hold a pen?

I can’t hold a broom, a knife, or a cup handle. I can’t reach into my purse and find something by “touch” – I have to empty the entire bag. I can’t push a grocery cart (or steer really.) Anything requiring fine motor skills is almost impossible – its not even that I can do it with pain. I just can’t do it.

So I have to wear the brace for two more months, have the testing and … ? Hope for the best, I guess?

I’m thankful for my phone, myIkea bags to carry laundry and other items since I can’t grip hand handles, my cousin Adrienne who did some wonderful tasks for me, large coffee cups, the veggie burgers I use to ice my hand, and tote bags.

Ah, yes — tote bags.


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