Yesterday was a rare and glorious day here in the Midwest. The thermometer topped off at around 70 degrees and the sun was shining. March in Cleveland rarely gets any better than that.

But I was in a salty mood as I sat on my back patio with a cup of coffee late yesterday morning. Yes, the coffee tasted wonderful. Yes, the smell of the earth carried with it a whiff of spring. Yes, the sun was warm on my face. And all I could think about was the fact that I had to lift the coffee cup with two hands because neither one of mine was operating at full capacity.

You see, I’ve had a major flare-up of carpal tunnel inflammation in the past 3 weeks and nothing I’ve done – taking time off, employing wrist rests, staying off the computer and smart phone after I leave work, dosing myself with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, wearing wrist braces – has helped. Today, my doctor prescribed steroids in a last-ditch attempt to avoid surgery. For someone who has never experienced so much as a twinge of pain or discomfort that could be linked to carpal tunnel, this has been a real eye opener of an experience.

My life for the past 3 weeks has been pain-filled and miserable. I have to think before I reach for a doorknob. I can’t hold a fork properly. I can’t sign my name. I have to lift a coffee cup with two hands and I have to be careful when getting dressed so as not to cause shooting pains from my fingertips to my elbows. Turning a key in a lock has become an almost overwhelming challenge. It is exhausting!!

This experience has given me a powerful and profound sense of respect and understanding for workers who experience chronic pain as the result of work-related injuries. After 3 weeks, I’m throwing in the towel and screaming, “Uncle!” I can’t even imagine living with this pain day in and day out indefinitely, yet millions of people do.

From the outside, I look the same as always. On the inside, I’m tired, aching, aggravated, frustrated and miserable. The next time I wonder why someone is acting so surly when they appear to have no reason to be, I’m going to think about the past 3 weeks of my life, because looks can be deceiving.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Blues
EHS Today