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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



My Right Hand

May 29th, 2007 by Madeleine Robins

right_hand2_oblique.jpg
I am intractably right-handed. When I try to do something without recourse to my right hand…well, at best, the effort lasts about three seconds. At worse, chaos right out of the I-Love-Lucy-Universe ensues. One of the more irritating things about encroaching age is that my using my right hand is not as easy as it used to be. The image above, by the way, is not my right hand, but it is someone’s right hand. In short order I may have a photo of my own to post.

A couple of years ago I started developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It was explained to me that I was very likely posturing in my sleep: squinching my thumb in close to my hand as I slept. So I was told to get a brace to hold my hand in a non-squinched position while I slept. The carpal tunnel problems diminished hugely. Then, lately, I’d been experiencing some soreness around my thumb; I was pretty sure this was RSI, but it wasn’t terrible, so I didn’t worry about it much.

And then, a few weeks ago, I was doing something and I felt a **pop** below my thumb. Doing certain things (putting my hand into my pocket; playing guitar; washing my face; holding hands with my beloveds) hurts like hell. Other things don’t hurt at all. Shortly the area below my thumb began to swell–not hugely, but enough. I let it alone for a while to see if benign neglect would wreak any change, but…no. Ow. So today I went to see the doctor, who clicked his tongue and agreed with me that I sure did something to my hand. X-rays were ordered. I will be informed of the news tomorrow, but I expect the medical consensus to be along the lines of “you sure did something to your hand.” What they’ll want to do about that, I don’t know.

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to use my right hand so much. Except that I am intractably, stubbornly, impossibly right handed. At the dog park I try to use the Chuck-It (no relation) with my left hand, but that doesn’t last long. At home, I try to open jars left-handed, pick things up left-handed. Not so much luck. Knitting: bad. Last week, when I was cleaning out the Barn, I was carrying, prying, sweeping, scrubbing, all right-handed. Sometimes hurt, sometimes not. Go figure. And writing? Writing anything more than a thank-you note or a check hurts. I can still type without too much discomfort, but what if that becomes harder too? Or if I’m ordered into a cast and can’t type for a few months?

I’ve heard all manner of uplifting stories about people who lose the use of their primary hand and learn to use the other. I like to think that I could do that, but right at the moment I’m kinda hoping there’s a quick fix. In the meantime, there’s NSAIDs and ice, and news about the X-ray tomorrow. As medical problems go, it’s not a patch on Rory’s leg, or some of the other stuff Brains have confronted. Maybe I’ll have to learn new tricks; learning things is supposed to be good for the mind, after all. As well as the Brain.

Posted in Daily Life, Medicine, Writing | 8 Comments »

8 Responses

  1. LDA Says:

    Feel for you, brah, having my own righthanded deficeit of the thumb (inside knuckle tendon) and strained outer wrist. Damn soft tissue injuries take so long–6-8 months–to heal. Broken bones heal much faster. Also, when you take the NSAIDs, and alternate ice and heat treatments, it will start to feel better, but lulls you into a false sense of progress. Stop the NSAIDs and the pain returns like it’s all new and shiny. Can be demoralizing.

    Sidebar: Years back the VA use to assign percentages of disability for loss of use of a limb. If I remember correctly, a hand constituted 25%.

  2. Madeleine Robins Says:

    I’d say that loss of your primary hand is more like 35%; loss of the other hand maybe 20%. But then, I’m all about the hands right now.

  3. Morgan J. Locke Says:

    Ow ow ow, Madeleine. Soothing and sympathetic vibes wending their way yourward.

  4. Rory Harper Says:

    Boo. Sucks. I have a feeling that, as we age, we’re all going to be having a LOT more of this. I didn’t use to have my cients complaining about hand and wrist pain, but I get a bunch of it these days.

    I see a lot more people wearing braces and working hurt. I’ve put some efforts into finding more ergonomic solutions for them, but it’s hard, especially if you’ve already damaged muscles tendons, ligaments, etc. And none of us can simply stay away from the keyboard and mouse, because they’re a major part of our lives now.

    Good luck with this. It messes both your life and your head up to feel crippled and incapable of doing the basics.

  5. Alis Says:

    Ouch.

    Good luck with the consultation tomorrow.

    Keep us posted.

  6. Maureen McQ Says:

    Mad, I’m curious to know what it actually was, so please be sure and let us know?

    But for now, lots of sympathetic and healing thoughts your way.

  7. Caroline Spector Says:

    Madeleine,

    Sweet nattering Jesus, I am so sorry about your hand. I hope the news is good, and if not, that the recovery is fast.

    My condolences and good thoughts for pain-free goodness soon.

  8. Madeleine Robins Says:

    Geez, team. Thanks for all the good wishes. It’s mostly not too bad. What I worry about is my own ability to adapt, to swing with the changes and train myself to play the Minute Waltz with my left hand. Because (did I mention this?) I am appallingly right handed.

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