Thursday, April 1, 2010

When It Rains. . . Must It Pour?

There is a saying, "When it rains, it pours." I'm not sure I agree that a little moisture falling from the sky necessarily predicts more disaster, but I seem to be experiencing a downpour of challenges.

Just as I was feeling better in the realm of cancer, and beginning to use my upper body a bit more, I strained my right wrist while exercising. I'm in the midst of a severe flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome. It's probably made worse by some of the medication I'm on and treatment I've had. I had hoped that 5 months of not working would allow my hands to have a good rest and heal, but alas, I was wrong. 5 months of not working has left me weak and less able to support my hands in gripping, pushing, pulling, and lifting. I have struggled for so long and (unsuccessfully) tried so many approaches to treatment, that I have to admit that it's time for surgery.

I had nerve conduction velocity and electromyogram studies done today that confirm my situation. It's humbling to be an Osteopath and admit that I have developed an ailment that my body cannot heal without surgical intervention, but that is what has unfolded. I'll probably have surgery sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. Once again, I find myself accepting something I don't prefer and having to make peace with it.

I have struggled for about 10 years with wrist and hand problems. My friend Mike, a fellow Osteopath, jokes about writing a chronicle of our profession entitled, "Disabled Osteopaths I Have Known or Been." Those of us who use our hands all day, every day, for our entire lives often develop sensitivities or chronic problems from repetitive microtrauma and strain. Every occupation has a hazard, and I feel like the rewards of my work vastly surpass the effects of its drawbacks.

Did I work too much? Did I not rest enough? Has cancer or sudden artificial menopause weakened my system? Was I born with some tendency for this problem? The answer to all of these questions is probably "yes" but I will never really know for sure. I am continually reminded of the need to let go of knowing why and just deal with the situation as it presents itself in the moment.

I do know that I want to live a long life with fabulously functional hands, and in order to have a chance at that, I need to intervene and allow a surgeon to give me a little more space inside my carpal tunnel. It's a very easy surgery. It takes 10 minutes. I'll be out of commission for a week, on ice and in bandages. After some hand therapy and more rest for 6-8 weeks I hope to be fabulously functional again.