Tag Archives: carpal tunnel

Brace Yourself!

This is what my left hand looked like in the doctor’s office.

This is what my left hand looked like in the doctor’s office.

Oh, happy day! My Ace bandage wrap, which included a partial cast and enough gauze to make me think that someone had stock in the company, is just a memory now. It came off with a little pulling and tugging Wednesday, leaving me with a very stiff left wrist, a swollen thumb, stitches, and the purple pen marks that Dr. Hildreth had used as a self-guide. Picasso he ain’t.

Believe me, you will thank me for not subjecting you to the close-up photo of my thumb-joint stitches after the tape was removed; they really look gross. Hildreth easily pulled out the carpal tunnel stitches and told me that I’ll be gently scrubbing the others away. Plus I have several easy exercises to do twice a day, as well as run warm water over the area to loosen it up.

Black is slimming, right?

Black is slimming, right?

My new constant companion is this Bledsoe brace, which I have to wear almost 24/7 (except for showers) for the next four weeks while my thumb-joint fusion continues to heal (I still have intermittent pain, unfortunately). Two weeks after that, I’ll see Hildreth and, hopefully, I’ll be released to wait until my grip fully returns (in an expected six months to a year).

Of course, the best news for me was that I’m cleared to return to walking and jogging. Oh, how I’ve missed my somewhat daily constitutional! Naturally, the combination of the supposedly breathable material with Houston’s infamous heat and humidity probably will make for one smelly brace.

Friends, you might want to keep your distance!


They look harmless, but they’re not.

It looks harmless, but it’s not.

Almost 11 years ago, I had my right thumb joint fused, with carpal-tunnel surgery thrown in for good measure. Suffering from osteoarthritis, I endured the pain as long as I could until I finally succumbed to surgery, two weeks in a plaster cast, a month in a fiberglass cast, and rehab. It was no fun at all.

At the time my doctor told me that eventually I would have to fix the left thumb joint, too. Off-and-on pain that lately has been more excruciatingly on than off convinced me that my surgical sabbatical sadly was over.

My good friend Janie P. recommended that I see Dr. Hildreth at our local Richmond Bone & Joint Clinic (my previous hand doctor practices in the Houston medical center, which is definitely outside my 10-mile travel radius). I liked him immediately, especially because he wanted to work up to surgery instead of starting with it (although the x-rays indicate there’s bone rubbing on bone).

Plus there’s free parking at the clinic, which is a mere 10 minutes from home. Bonus points!

Hildreth first had me try a prescription anti-inflammatory and a soft splint. My pain level? The same.

After snapping this photo with my iPhone 5, I stopped watching.

Here we go!

So yesterday it was time for step two: A steroid shot. It makes me shudder just to type those vowels and consonants. I knew from previous injections in various parts of my feet that they hurt like no one’s business. But I also knew they were better than surgery. Hildreth said that the shot sometimes can totally alleviate the pain or at least make it a whole lot better.

So bring it on!

Does everyone snap pics of themselves getting a shot or is it just me? After I finished, I could see the fine doctor trying to get into the photo.

No autographs, please!

No autographs, please!

And here he is! By the way, that needle looks really looooooong!

I’d like to report that I took on that shot with a calm, cool, and collected demeanor. But that would be a lie. That mother hurt so much! Oh, how I hate those needle stabs.

But, as the saying goes, no pain, no gain. I’m willing to accept the pain for the chance at gaining relief for as long as possible.

Hopefully, by the time I need another steroid shot, the memory of yesterday’s ouchfest will have blissfully faded.