No, that's not my cat walking on the keyboard again, typing crazy things (although she does that often). It's me. My carpal tunnel syndrome is acting up again, and I'm hating it. Who would have thought a little cramping in your forearms could be so bad?
Even though I've spent most of my adult life typing like a maniac, I didn't actually get carpal tunnel until my 3rd pregnancy (when everything just seemed to fall apart). In fact, I found out I was pregnant after going to the doctor complaining of severe pain and cramping in my wrists and hands. I'd wake up over and over in the night with my hands so numb that I thought they were going paralyzed. Once, we called my physician father-in-law in Germany at 2am California time to ask for help. He thought it might have to do with funky way I was propping myself up on pillows at night (?), or maybe it was hormonal. Bingo! No. 2 turned out to be the trick.
It's pretty common knowledge now that carpal tunnel is associated with pregnancy. I was given lots of handouts on the topic. But here's the bummer: after baby came, my carpal tunnel didn't go away. It got so bad, in fact, that for a while I was wearing splints on both hands and taking 800mg tablets of Ibuprofen several times a day. I was so desperate, I dragged all three of my kids along to the orthopedist for help.
"Did anything change recently, other than having the baby?" he asked.
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"Well I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months ago, but it can't be related to that, can it?"
"Everything's related to the diabetes," he replied.
Sure enough: "Most studies now strongly suggest that carpal tunnel syndrome is primarily associated with medical or physical conditions, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis."
And it's a bitch (if you'll excuse the expression). I never imagined how painful or disabilitating it can be. At its worst, I could literally not make toast for my kids in the morning, let alone help them button their sweaters. I could barely hold my blow drier up straight, and was wiped out from being up all night with the pain.
I happen to know that the editor of Diabetes Health magazine, Scott King, suffers from a severe case of carpal tunnel himself. He was diagnosed 10 years ago, and just underwent arthroscopic surgery in both hands on February 5th. (Those are his hands in the photo above.) I know many people are leery of "going under the knife," because these procedures aren't always successful. But it seems Scott's was a great success. He writes to me, in shorthand: