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marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 05:50 pm

I need to learn that:

  • Manual labor takes me longer than it used to/than I think it should, because I'm likely to work slower due to hand pain.
  • A simple task like moving the thermostat through to the other side of the wall will leave me in frustrating amounts of pain, and also leave me feeling to exhausted to do anything but take an immediate nap.

[livejournal.com profile] gyges_kant, I'm still planning to come gaming tonight, but if I don't show, know it's because I wiped myself out making it so my room can be heated independently of the rest of the apartment.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Saturday, October 10th, 2009 03:38 pm

For the first time in over a decade, I have allowed a blade to touch my hair.

I cut off about 10", which, due to the way it thins, is probably less than it sounds like. I wanted to get all the really thin part and go a little above. I probably cut a few more inches than I'd intended.

It now falls about in the middle of my back when it's braided, not sure when it's down and wet.

It seems that it's no longer able to hold a braid without the aid of elastic, at least when wet. This will be mildly annoying.

My hope is that it will be less painful to brush and braid this way, which will result in my taking better care of it, and doing less of the following bad chain of thought:

"I'd like to go out and have fun with friends, but I haven't showered in a couple of days and am kind of gross, so I should shower first. But my hair's a wreck, so I should really wash it. But that requires letting it out and brushing it and washing it and then putting it back up, which is painful for my hands and takes a lot of time, by which point it'll be too late to go out. Screw it, I'll just do the hermit thing in my room and watch TV."

People may be pleased to know that I've just glanced at myself in the mirror and discovered that it's still forming some sort of a cute little curl below the elastic.

marcmagus: Ten the hard way (ten the hard way)
Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 03:27 am

A friend recently posted this in their journal. I've spent the last hour trying to get to sleep but finding myself going through a range of thinking about my own responses to this and how the questions resonated with me, and questioning whether I'm sick enough to be able to legitimately respond to this. I got myself pretty worked up being worried about how I'm just whining and not really ill and how if I did this it would be disrespectful of my friends with very serious chronic conditions which clearly have a much more significant effect on their lives than mine. And then I decided, if I'm going to spend hours losing sleep thinking over it, it's probably important enough to write down, and if anybody has a problem with it, they can talk to me and explain why and I can post an apology or something.

So, here goes: 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Read more... )

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 02:09 pm
It is now one month since my surgery. I thought it was time for an update.

The scab tissue has all fallen off the incision site, and over the last week I've shed a whole bunch of layers of skin from the surrounding region. The area surrounding the incision is still slightly swollen, but it seems to be healing.

The outside of my elbow is somewhat numb. It's not completely without feeling (which I think means this is getting better), but it's definitely less sensitive to, say, scratching lightly with a fingernail than the opposite arm.

Flexibility in my elbow does seem to be improving, though at a slower rate than I'd hoped. I can now reach maximum extension (for me) with only minor pain. Flexion is worse; it looks like I can get to about 80°. I can touch my nose with only minor discomfort, and can put my hand on top of my head. Reaching the base of where my hair gathers at the back is a stretch, but doable. Reaching the nape of my neck is impossible. I don't think I have quite enough reach to start braiding my hair yet, unfortunately; I'm really looking forward to being able to take better care of it.

I'm noticing my shoulder seems to have also become extra-stiff at some point. I'll have to start working more actively on stretching it out as well as the elbow, and I think I'm healed enough to try to start up general exercises again.

The remaining pain and numbness make it tough to really think about whether this actually helped anything or not, but I'm at least cautiously optimistic that the surgery won't have any lasting negative effects.

This post submitted with two monkeys and no formatting to test if that has the result I'd hope; but I should probably switch to JerryWiki or learn and install Markdown.

Answer: monkeys don't have any apparent effect.
marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 04:49 pm

Had the cast/dressing cut off today. I'm now in a temporary elastic tube bandage, which I'm told is there for support so I'm not in as much pain while I finish healing. Doctor says I'm probably going to heal without a scar.

I'm cleared to type with both hands, and to dance. I'm not supposed to operate heavy machinery or do heavy lifting, and I'm not supposed to do pushups for a while, but apparently I'm allowed to shovel the driveway if it snows as long as I'm careful.

I'm told I probably won't need PT; most people recover on their own from normal use. If anything goes wrong, I'm to contact them, of course. I can expect to finish healing in about two weeks.

Right now I have about 45 degrees of flexion in my elbow before it hurts (at either end of a range centered on about 45 off straight), and about 90 degrees of torsion. Basically, it hurts a lot in a minor way, but it's a huge relief to have the cast off, and being able to type two-handed again is great (although I may switch back and forth to one-handed to take it easy). Also, I should be able to shower, which I'm really looking forward to, and maybe even take care of my own hair (although right now my elbow isn't going to bend that way)! And with any luck, I can return to my normal wardrobe.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 01:04 pm
I feel as though I've been increasingly falling out of touch with my friends. I also feel that, given that I seem inclined to use this journal as a means of halting that slide out of touch, I'm not posting nearly enough about what's going on in my life. Accordingly, I'm going to attempt to post more, not because I feel guilty so much as because I feel like I've been letting fear of people reading this journal and thinking less of me interfere with my posting to the journal as much as I want to. Don't expect "I just had a tasty sandwich" type posts, still; you can follow my twitter for that stuff, although I may activate LoudTwitter so that stuff gets copied here as a more permanent record of what's been going on in my life on a moment-by-moment basis (in daily summary form). I do hope there will be a bit more of the "here's what I'm thinking about" variety, as well as more of the "here's what's going on in my life on a large scale" variety. Of course, the issue I want to talk about today, my hand health, will probably still serve to reduce my post frequency.

My hands. Still the big thing in my life. For anybody who doesn't know, my chosen career path is programming computers, which requires typing, and many of my hobbies involve spending time at the computer keyboard. For years I've been struggling with pain in my hands and forearms, and it's currently seriously interfering with my ability to work (I'm not currently working), my social life (I used to regularly have 6+ active windows open on some sort of instant messaging client and possibly 2-4 chat rooms as well. I'm now lurking on about 8 IRC channels, but rarely comment, and there are probably only 6 people I've spoken to at all over some form of IM in the last two weeks; I only have two conversations open with serious regularity.), and all sorts of aspects of regular life (I often need help opening jars, shoveling the driveway is seriously painful, and the like). Fortunately, I still get plenty of time when I'm not consciously aware of my pain, and plenty of time where it's only a dull ache, but it's become a major factor in my life now.

What started 10 years or so ago as a highly localized sharp pain in the tendons of my wrists (diagnosis: tendonitis) has now spread pretty far through my body. I'm not honestly sure if it's the same thing or something different and related, or, at this point, if there's only one thing wrong with me. I still get the tendon pain when I type for an extended period of time or if I try to write more than about two sentences, coupled with pain in the muscles across the bottom of my forearm. Working also sometimes leads to pain throughout the back of my hand, in my fingers (particularly the pinkies and ring fingers), and in the muscles up the back of my forearm. Sometimes I also get pain in my elbows (right in the cubital tunnel; the "funny bone" where the ulnar nerve passes through the elbow), and sometimes numbness in the last two fingers of my hands and extending up into my forearm. I have constant tightness in my shoulders under my scapulae, and I've been noticing both tightness and mild pain in my upper shoulders and neck.

As I said, most of this is usually at the kind of dull pain level, but if I, say, try to spend a day typing, it gets noticeably worse. When I've been working regularly, it starts getting to the sort of point where the pain in my arms makes me feel sort of metaphorically as though my brain is on fire, and I have a compulsion to throw things across the room and stop doing anything with my hands immediately.

Needless to say, this makes me somewhat unenthusiastic about any activity which will involve my hands extensively. This of course competes with the fact that almost everything I'm excited about doing involves my hands extensively. There's also the reasonable supposition that this a repeated strain injury, so continuing to do the things which cause the strain will exacerbate the injury.

In medical terms: I have the old tendonitis diagnosis, a more recent diagnosis of "RSI", and tests have demonstrated bilateral ulnar neuropathy (both of my ulnar nerves have been damaged, presumably due to being compressed in the elbow).

In the last couple of years I've tried all sorts of lifestyle changes, including a number of ergonomic improvements, behavioral changes, physical and occupational therapy, massage therapy, reducing the amount of typing I do, taking occasional periods of disability leave from work, losing my job, spending months doing pretty much nothing except watching TV (sometimes supporting the weight of a book and holding it open puts noticeable strain on my hands; TV is one of the only things I can come up with which is physically undemanding and at least somewhat mentally stimulating). The rest stuff seems to help in lessening the pain. The pt didn't have any discernible effect on my ability to work.

We're now talking surgery to relocate the ulnar nerve, hoping that will reduce future damage and maybe allow some things to heal; but we've been talking that for a while and it's been very slow to manifest (though it may happen soon now). The good news is that I've started seeing a new PCP, and so far (a week), he's actively giving me referrals which insurance seems to be good about honoring, so we're exploring new avenues again. It feels good to be moving forward.

I have the nasty habit of assuming people mean the question and answering honestly when someone asks how I am, which means anybody who's done so has heard some subset of the above, probably in a comparably complaining tone. It's a fact of my life right now: my hands (and arms, and shoulders, and neck, and back) hurt, a lot, and it's seriously screwing with everything I do. I try not to dwell on the pain, or the frustration, but...it's pretty central right now. Along with the looming monetary difficulties due to losing my job and not being in a good place to start a new one. And the frustration at being rather halted in my career path right now.

Plenty of stuff is going well, too. Maybe I'll talk about some of it the next time my pain is mild enough I feel like I can write a couple pages of text without it being a serious strain.
marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Thursday, February 14th, 2008 07:58 pm

What I learned today:

  • I've been stretching wrong all these years. Specifically, stretching with counter-pressure (such as by grasping your fingers and pulling back to stretch the wrist), which it may be helpful in averting athletic injury, can actually exacerbate swelling of the tendons.
  • While cold is good for reducing swelling, ice can cause/exacerbate nerve damage. (In this case, I was right to avoid ice, but wrong to avoid cold.) Heat may reduce joint stiffness, but increases swelling.
  • My elbows are much higher than I think they are. What feels like my arms are level is something like a 15 degree angle. This means I should be keeping my keyboard at a height which makes me feel like it's practically at my chin. (It really isn't.)
  • My shoulder blades are at times significantly out of whack. This is probably directly contributing to the problems I've been having, whether or not it's a root cause.
  • The way I sleep probably exacerbates this, too. The way I sleep, as we already discovered, is almost certainly exacerbating the ulnar issues.
  • I should be getting regular massage to help me heal from my RSI. Even though the chances of my getting either my Worker's Compensation coverage or my regular health care coverage to cover any portion of the cost are close to nil. I knew this one, but it was, shall we say, emphasized.
All in all, a really positive meeting with the OT. She didn't waste time on stuff I already knew, and had a lot of things to say which seemed very on-point.

ETA: Not from today, but this made me think of it. [livejournal.com profile] uridium, the arm numbness/paralysis thing is probably ulnar nerve related. (That was you, right?)

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Friday, February 8th, 2008 01:19 pm

ibuprofen_taken += 1200 mg.

That's 600mg last night when I got home from work early, and another 600 I'm taking right now. I think it's been a couple months since I've been in enough pain I felt I needed something to help with it.

This is mostly for documentation. I'm doing something somewhere between working from home and taking a sick day today, depending on whether there's anything which needs doing badly enough that it's worth typing for. Otherwise, I'm going to try to keep keyboard use to a minimum.

There may be a bunch of TV in my future; very few of the activities I enjoy fail to require use of my hands.

On the plus side, appointment finally made for Thursday with someone who should be able to provide practical advice on methods and tools to avoid hurting myself further.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 11:26 am

About that PT appointment I have for tomorrow morning . . . PT's office just called me to cancel, as he has to go to a funeral. Doh. I can have an appointment with his partner, though. Not the person my doctor referred me to, but certainly better than waiting until August.

Just . . . argh! Also, ow.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 04:52 pm

Well, I've seen the doctor, and he's diagnosed me with "overuse both forearms/wrists". He's referred me to a PT, with whom I should have an appointment next Wednesday morning, assuming nothing goes horribly wrong with the Worker's Comp. The recommendation is for a good exercise and stretching program. One interesting thing, he explicitly pointed out that I needed to work on strengthening the large muscles in the upper torso which support the arms, suggesting that it's weakness there which is leading to fatigue where it hurts.

So the good news is that I still don't need surgery. Hopefully this time this PT thing will work.