Known Johnson

December 13, 2007

Give me a hand, give me a break

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:05 pm

Well, I’ve gone and done it. After dealing with the stupid numbness in my hand over the summer, I’ve finally gotten to the point where an actual issue is going on. We moved at work, see, and the new location has very old desk with old-style keyboard trays that don’t hold the mouse. With my issue, I have to have the mouse at keyboard height – it’s that whole ergonomic thing, you know, where all your joints need to be at 90 degree angles and such.

For the past three weeks, however, I’ve been using my mouse on my desk, which is a good six inches, maybe higher, than it should be, angling my arm in weird ways, putting pressure right on the ulnar nerve and causing pain and numbness. It’s not a good thing, and this week things came to a head – I have constant, burning pain in my wrist and the pinky side of my hand, plus pain in my fore- and upper-arm from the strain.

So now I’m wearing my dumb wrist brace, the kind you see people who have carpal tunnel syndrome wearing, and everyone’s asking me “Do you have carpal tunnel?” And of course I say no and have to go through this long explanation – basically, that the ulnar nerve is the nerve on the other side of the hand, a nerve that controls the pinky and ring finger, and in my case it’s either compressed or pinched somewhere in my wrist or near there, and because of that my fingers go completely numb and sometimes hurt a lot.

After only a day of this I’m kind of getting to the point where I want to start making up horrible afflictions. Reality just isn’t all that impressive and people want something spectacular. I’m thinking of saying that maybe my hand was run over by a train, or maybe I blocked a bullet, or there’s a terrible burn under this. Because, you know, people tend to blow off the possibility of permanently losing the usage of two fingers, especially when they’re just your pinky and ring finger. The key word there being “your” – put them in the same situation where “your” becomes “my” and they’ll be pretty freaked out, too. I mean, come on, do you want your hand to always look like this?

the claw!

I didn’t think so.



  1. You say you’ve had hand/nerve-type issues for a couple years now? How long have you been taking various drugs for migraines and whatever else?

    Before you write me off as some kind of Tom-Cruise-Drugs=Satan nut job, hear me out.

    I started having panic attacks around this time last year. I wasn’t under a particularly large amount of stress, so I don’t know what started them. Alls I know is they were horrible. I had one driving home with a friend once, and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was seriously considering telling my friend to tell my wife that I loved her, because I didn’t think I’d be seeing her again. I thought I was dying. During another particularly bad episode, I had my wife take me to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack.

    Eventually my doctor put me on Xanax. It worked for about a month, but then I became tolerant to it, requiring larger and larger doses to get any benefit from it. In fact, I was so tolerant to it that I would start going into withdrawal in between doses (all this after only a month on the stuff!).




    That period of withdrawal, and the period after it where I actually started tapering my dosages down (very, very, slowly…like, by fractions of a mg per cut) in January of 2007, were horrible. Random body parts going numb, tachycardia, tension headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, random muscle twitching, erm…intestinal problems, and of course, increased anxiety. Now, I’ve mentioned I get migraines with auras, so you know I’m used to some weird crap going on. But this surpassed all of that. Anyway, that all lasted, the intensity and specific symptoms varying day by day, until I took my last dose in late May of 2007. Even now, though, I still feel “off” sometimes, hands twitching, feeling as though I’m in a fog, etc.

    Anyway, all that led me to have a pronounced mistrust of prescription drugs. Of course, I don’t think that prescription drugs are bad…they obviously help you with your migraines. And I’m also not trying to imply that what you’re going through isn’t “real,” or that it is “all in your head.” All I’m trying to say is that, if you haven’t already, you should research the drugs you’re taking as much as possible and talk to your doctor about the possibility of the drugs causing any of the weird symptoms you’re having. You’ve probably done this already, but I know I didn’t. I just took whatever the doctor threw at me, and that ended badly for me. Since then, I’m much more careful about taking prescription drugs (please don’t get the idea that I think I know more than doctors though, because I know that’s not true). Now I research them as throughly as I can, and I try to advise others to do the same.

    Again, please accept my apologies if I’ve done anything to belittle what you’re going through…that is was not my intention.

    Comment by Uncle Midriff — December 14, 2007 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  2. I hear you, and I don’t think you’re a nut at all. This is an issue that I’ve had for a long time, but it’s gotten much worse in the past couple of years. I attribute that to poor posture, etc. more than anything else. For many years I’ve had times when the side of my right hand would go numb while using the computer, but I didn’t think much of it until it started happening at night while I was asleep (which would wake me up.) There’s really no telling what caused this, or even if anything in particular caused this or if it’s just something that has finally gotten to the point that my body can’t cope with it – some people just have weird bone structures in their arms that cause their nerves to rub on sharp areas. As of today, things are much better, but I’ve really been taking it easy, too. Hopefully getting a good keyboard/mouse tray at work will help a lot, and I’m going to have to do the same at home – and replace this very, very old chair, too (it leans all by itself, elevates itself when no one is in it, etc. It’s OLD.)

    Comment by Tom — December 15, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  3. […] I’ve been forcing myself to do a little less computing in my downtime to alleviate some problems I’ve been having with my hand, so that’s why it’s been so quiet here. In the mean time, I’ve been keeping busy […]

    Pingback by lookout for hope | You’re not obliged to swallow anything you despise » Blog Archive » Catching up — December 18, 2007 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

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