I had a little DQ.

DQ

No, I didn’t have this DQ!  Darnit!

In February sometime I started having wrist pain.  On the inside of the wrist right below the thumb, I would have sharp pain with certain movements.  It especially hurt to hold my phone or tablet.  That caused a big issue since I draw on my tablet and I had a pet portrait I was working on.  Luckily the portrait is for a friend who is also chronically ill, so she understands these things.

While at Urgent Care for another matter, a suspected UTI, I had the doctor take a look at my wrist and she said I had tendinitis and needed to rest it and it should be fine in a couple of weeks.  I put it in a brace and waited.  The pain and swelling got worse.  After about 3 weeks, I went to see my primary care doctor.  She took x-rays and they didn’t show anything.  She referred me to a Hand Clinic.  Of course, it took a couple of weeks to get in there and during that time, the pain got worse.  The brace was not helping.  The brace stopped me from flexing my wrist up and down, but not side to side, and that’s what was causing the most pain.

While I waited I kept doing research to try to figure out what was wrong.  If you search for wrist pain, you will find carpel tunnel, and not much else., and I did not have the symptoms of carpel tunnel.  You really have to dig to find other causes.  Finally I found something that fit my symptoms – De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.  There was even a simple little test to diagnosis it.

deQuervain_Fig2A2B

Finklestein test for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis  (image source)

The Finkelstein test is performed by placing your thumb against your hand, making a fist with your fingers closed over your thumb, and then bending your wrist toward your little finger.  If you have severe pain, you probably have De Quervain’s tenosynovits.

 

 

 

 

 

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is inflammation of tendons on the side of the wrist at the base of the thumb. (see image left)  So yes, a type of tendinitis, but not one that will get better with a brace.

Last week I saw the hand specialist and he confirmed my suspicions.  I have DQ.  He even drew a little picture explaining it.  He told me the brace was useless, to just get rid of it. (freedom!) He said that a steroid injection in the affected area cures the condition 80% of the time, some people need a second injection, and very rarely it requires surgery to open the tunnel and make more room for the tendons.

20180408_151815.jpg So I got a shot.  He tried to be gentle but, Oh boy did that hurt!  He said I should feel some relief immediately because the shot has some numbing medication, and I would feel lasting relief in a day or two.  If the pain comes back after a couple of months, I’ll need another injection.  If it comes back after that, then I’ll need surgery.

I didn’t really feel the immediate relief he spoke of, but the next day it was like a light switch cut off.  The pain was almost completely gone.  By day two, I barely felt pain at all.  Now, I’m still barely feeling any pain, every once in a while I’ll get a twinge, but that’s all.  I’m amazed!  After 2 months of intense pain, I had one shot and it’s gone!  Wow, if only everything I had could be cured so easily.  Yes, I know the pain could come back, but I’m taking this as a win!

What causes this?  They aren’t exactly sure.  It can be from repetitive motion using the wrist, like picking up a baby (I can’t tell you the last time I picked up a baby).  It is often seen in new mothers and middle aged women.  It could be caused by hormonal fluctuations, or other conditions like arthritis.  Anything that causes swelling really.  I’m thinking mine was caused by the way I was holding my tablet while drawing, it put a lot of pressure on my thumb and bent my wrist.  I’ve since gotten a new computer and I don’t hold it like I was holding my tablet, so I’m hoping I don’t have a repeat of this.

Last night I was even able to finish my latest pet portrait.

kermit4

What do you think?

 

* painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved.  Do not use without permission.

 

 

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#HAWMC Day 4 – Day of Diagnosis

Today is Day 4 of #HAWMC (WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Monthly Challenge).  The prompt today is:

Do you remember the day you were diagnosed? Perhaps you were scared, felt alone and surely you had tons of questions. Write a letter to yourself for the day you were diagnosed, knowing all you do now.

 

Dear Wendy,

You’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.  You’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease before, you just didn’t know that the doctor didn’t really diagnose you.  He didn’t know much of anything.  I’m sorry you had to go through that.  He didn’t even put the diagnosis of Meniere’s in your records, he only told you that you had it.  So today you sit there wondering….”Do I really have Meniere’s?  Do I have some brain tumor?  Is there something worse?  Could it be something minor and I’ve been suffering for 7 years because I have been going to a doctor who “doesn’t know much about Meniere’s”?  How could he have looked you in the eye and said that?  After he has been treating you for SEVEN years?  Now that it is in both ears he admitted he didn’t know much.  WTF?

So today you are here at Duke Medical Center to see this new doctor.  The doctor won’t even see you until you have been through a series of vestibular testing and had hearing tests.  Don’t be so nervous.  The tests aren’t as scary as they might be, the people who run the tests on you are very nice.  Don’t get me wrong the tests are intimidating, but the wonderful people there who are taking care of you make it much easier.

After the vestibular testing and the hearing test you go back to meet the doctor and you are diagnosed with Meniere’s.  The tests showed that you have vestibular damage, but there is no cause shown, and you have all the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease.  Unfortunately, you have it in both ears.  That is going to make it more difficult for you, but you are strong, you will be able to deal with it.  The disease is progressive.  You don’t know it yet, but you will lose your hearing.  That is not as scary as it sounds.  You deal with it.  Really, it will be okay.

The doctor is very understanding and doesn’t pull any punches.  He tells you that Meniere’s is one of the worst diseases he knows of that won’t kill you.  There is no cure.  There are some treatments, but not a lot.  He also tells you that it is a disease of random punishment.  He is refering to how the vertigo hits.  He explains it is likened to a soldier at war.  He knows he will be under fire, he just doesn’t know when.  He is always expecting it.  You will always be expecting the random punishment of vertigo.  It’s a horrible thing to live with.  But you will deal with it.  One moment at a time.

You learn all of this in one day.  Some things you were told gave you some false hope.  You will learn there isn’t a “normal” in Meniere’s.  There is a lot you will have to deal with over the next few years.  Know you will be okay.  The more you start to follow a mindfulness mindset you feel better about how things are.

The day of your diagnosis is just the beginning.  You have so many more days that are more important than that first day.  It was just the beginning.  You have no idea what kind of ride you are in for.  Don’t give up, even when it seems like there is nothing left.  (don’t worry I know you don’t give up….won’t give up!)  Focus on each day as it comes, don’t worry about tomorrow so much.  Try hard not to focus on the past.  It is over and you can’t get it back.  Focus on today, right now.  Make today the best you can.  But remember, we all have bad days.  Be gentle with yourself.

If you’d like to read more posts from today please check out WEGO’s Facebook page.  and don’t forget to check out Picnic With Ant’s Facebook Page too.  🙂

How to deal with one more thing? PFAM blog carnival

Adding One More thing...

This PFAM carnival is hosted by FibroDAZE, and her prompt is  –” when you have made some sort of peace and are coping with the chronic illnesses you do have and “life” throws you curve balls in the form of a new diagnosis, how do you deal? What are your coping mechanisms? How do you come to terms with the new diagnosis?”

Well, this is a doozy of a topic isn’t it?

How many of us have been diagnosed with something chronic, only to have another chronic illness added on to it, then another..then another….??? (I have a whole list, just look at the Page titled My Ants that Bite.)

This has happened so many times to me now I’m usually relieved to be given a name to something I knew was there.  When I got the Meniere’s diagnosis, it was scary, but it was almost liberating.  I felt validated.  No longer was I dealing with just a bunch of symptoms, it had a name.  (I have a few friends who have an illness with no diagnosis.  This is much harder to deal with, I think, than those of us who have a diagnosis (or many diagnoses).

I had a new diagnosis added on to my list in March, I also went through a 5 month spell of having a reprieve from one of my most debilitating illnesses only to have a relapse about 5 months ago.  How have I handled this?

Truthfully, I cried, I bitched, I was devastated, I collapsed in my husbands arms, then I took a deep breath, pulled myself together and reached out.

I dove into my blog and called on my friends here who have been with me through the ups and downs, I gathered them around me like a nice warm quilt and I let it all out.  They listened, and supported me.  They offered advice when asked, comfort when needed, and a swift kick in the butt when I was wallowing too much.  : )   I’ve been very lucky here to find such a supportive group of people who really “get it”.

I am a strong believer is knowing everything I can about what is going on with my body, so I research, and I find more people who have experience with this and compare notes.  I take what I think will help me, and leave the rest.  (this is tricky, but there are so many people out there trying to take advantage of desperate people with chronic illnesses, we have to be careful.)

I also see a therapist who specializes in helping people deal with chronic or debilitating illnesses.  My husband and I see her together, this has helped us so much, I just can’t begin to say how valuable this has been to us.

My advice?

  • Digest: First take time to absorb the information, don’t let it overwhelm you.
  • Think: How is this going to change my life? Can knowing about this make it better?  (my new diagnosis in March was Fructose Malabsorption, by changing my diet, I am able to make things better.)
  • Seek:  Look for others who have similar issues and compare notes, learn from others who have been dealing with this for a longer time.  Look for as much information on the subject that you can.  The more you know the more prepared you will be to handle what comes your way.
  • Build: A strong support system to help you with this new challenge.
  • Re-evaluate: Is your life going to change?  What will this mean?  Do I need to make a different plan for dealing with things?  Will my diet change? will my ability to do things change? ….
  • Make a plan:  This may take a while, depending on what your new diagnosis is, or in my case how severe my relapse is, a plan is needed so we won’t feel out of control.  Again, reach out and ask other’s how they handle certain situations.
  • Support:  I know I mentioned this before, but I believe this is one of the most crucial aspects of dealing with a chronic illness.  We need support.  Do not hesitate to get professional support when needed.
  • If needed, get a second opinion.

After a long battle with myself, fighting every diagnosis, refusing to believe I couldn’t just be fixed, I realized that my life wasn’t going to turn out like I planned.  Things would have to change, and I needed to let go of some of those old expectations.  No, my life isn’t what I expected, so I’m changing my expectations.   This is a fairly new idea for me, but one I’m clinging to and repeat often.  Not what I expected?  Expect something else!

Now if things come up it’s much easier for me to change accordingly.  This was not an easy thing to do, and I still get stuck, and have set backs and pity parties…but it’s easier than it used to be.

Every day I try to say something I’m grateful for in my life.  Some days I say the same thing as I did the day before and the day before…perhaps I can only think of that one thing, or that one thing is very special at that moment, but I can always think of at least one thing.

Lastly, always remember, you are not defined by your illnesses!