Monday, October 12, 2009

The gift of cortisone shots

Last Wednesday I got my life back. Though I have carpal tunnel surgeries scheduled now for both of my hands, I just couldn't take the pain any more. I got cortisone shots in both my wrists. It hurt like the dickens for a short second, but it honestly wasn't any worse than what I'd been feeling most nights. I was told I wouldn't feel the full effects until the weekend, but by that evening, I felt amazing. And now, in no particular order:
  • My hands don't smell. I've been wearing braces on both hands at night for about 6 months now, and since Maggie was born, at least part of the day as well. For the last month or so, I'd had them on almost constantly, and they were starting to smell like stinky feet shoes. I washed them as often as I could, but daily I was changing poopy diapers, getting spit up on, trying to cook and clean and was basically just up to my elbows in being a mom. And it was all getting inside the braces. Gross.
  • Closely tied to above, I can wash my hands. It was such a pain to take the braces off and on. Sometimes I had to use my teeth to undo the velcro because I couldn't get my fingers to pinch. I came to rely a lot on hand sanitizer, but now I can wash my hands as often as I need to.
  • I can sleep comfortably. For months I have been spending at least part of the night sleeping upright on the couch. I would start out in bed, but would soon wake up with one or both of my hands on fire. The only way I could get the pain to abate was to sit propped up in the corner with both arms straight down by my side. If I leaned the slightest bit to the right or the left, the pressure would start to build and soon I would be in agony again. But if I stayed upright, my neck would kink. I really started to relate to that scene at the end of The Elephant Man, where he just wants to sleep like a normal person. Now I can sleep curled up on my side with my hands tucked under my pillow, or flat on my back with my arms over my head. It is delicious.
  • I enjoy nursing. It was so hard to try to position Maggie with the braces on, and then once she was in position, her little head would put so much pressure on my arms I wanted to die. I'm so grateful she's a quick eater anyway, but it was all I could do some nights to just let her finish.
  • I can cuddle my children, and handle them gently. I haven't been able to put my arms around them and hold them without my arms going completely numb. Even poor Maggie has spent more time on the floor or on the couch next to me than in my arms because they either hurt too much, or I just didn't trust them to support her. And the braces just made everything awkward, so I'd end up being rougher with her than I meant to because I just didn't have the mobility I needed. I'd try to place her softly in the crib, only to have her get caught on the braces, or accidentally drop her the last few inches. Now I can hold her with my hand cupping her little bottom for has long as I want to, and slide her gently into her bed.
  • I can snuggle with my husband. Being unable to lay on my side made spooning of any kind impossible.
  • I can style my hair. I've been relying on the ponytail even more than usual because I just couldn't hold the dryer or turn the brush or pull the flat iron. Maybe soon I'll even get a cute haircut again!
  • I can stay on my Weight Watchers. It is really, really hard to stay within your points for the day when you can't use your hands to do anything and you eat when you're bored.
  • I can eat. Ironic, I know, when I've just complained that eating too much was a problem, but I was kind of resigned to just snacking. Halfway through a real meal, my hands would be completely numb and I'd be passing the fork from hand to hand while attempting to shake some life into the one I wasn't eating with.
  • My hands don't go numb while driving anymore.
  • I will have better dental health. I just got a crown and I blame it on the carpal tunnel. Ready for this logic? The pain would wake me up in the night, I'd be awake so long I'd get hungry, I'd eat, I'd finally fall back asleep with teeth unbrushed, and then not be able to floss in the morning because my hands wouldn't work. Thus, I got a large cavity that couldn't be filled, and the only option was to crown it.
  • I can make things again. Chloe's Halloween costume is done now, and I'm ready to start on Addie's. And I'm looking forward to the weddings I'm doing flowers for instead of being nearly overcome with fear.
  • I can cook and clean again, though maybe that's not such a blessing . . . Honestly, though, I've hated not being able to be a homemaker, unable to stop my house from falling apart around me.
  • My hands work when I wake up in the morning. No matter how careful I'd been at night, every morning my hands were so stiff and sore that I just couldn't do anything for a couple hours. If I tried, I'd just end up frustrated and in worse pain. Now I just have to break the ensuing addiction to Facebook, and I'll be back on track.
  • I can be happy. I never realized how life sucking it is to deal with chronic pain. Everything was harder, including smiling, because I was just so tired and uncomfortable all the time. I tried to keep it together, but people could see I wasn't myself. The morning after I got the shots, I popped right out of bed and got to work, and was so grateful that I could. I am a nicer mom and wife. I have such a greater appreciation for those who deal with pain that don't have the hope of a solution like I do. I understand my mom so much better.
I'm hoping it gets even better after my surgeries. Things have improved dramatically, but I'm still not 100%. My index finger on my left hand is still numb, and I'm still a little achy at times, so I know there's still room for improvement. At least, I'm trying to be optimistic that there's room for improvement and I'm not looking at permanent nerve damage here. I just prefer not to think about that option until my operations are over. In the meantime, I'm happy.


Lindsay said...

Wow Ruth...I had no idea it was that bad! You are such a trooper. I cannot imagine. Making the adjustment to 3 kids is hard enough--and that's with having functioning hands. That must have drastically added to the chaos and frustration and exhaustion and everything else that goes with adjusting to a new baby. I am so glad you are doing much better.

Sandy said...

BIG! THUMBS! UP! I'm so glad you're feeling better...and feeling like you're getting your life back! Hopefully the surgeries will improve everything for good - hurray for modern medicine :)

Wilkins Clan said...

I am so glad to hear that you are doing better. I can not believe it has taken them this long to give you some relief. If I had not been totaly couch ridden for the past eight weeks I would have come and helped out more. We love you guys and are praying for you!

Missy said...

I'm soooo relieved for you, Ruthie! I really hope that your recovery from the surgeries is quick. Now quick - get all your creative awesomeness out while you can! LOVE you.