Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ouch! My Hands Hurt! by C.E. Bailey

For two days, my forearms and wrists flailed about like jelly. And, they ached. After I flopped them limply against my arm chair for the entertainment value, tired of giggling and whining about it, I demanded massages from anyone who passed me by, in other words, my son.

As a writer, this seemingly minor affliction could have more serious consequences, so I risked the pain and typed out my desperate plea to where else? Twitter. Yep, that's what I did. Forget Wikipedia and WebMD and Yahoo Answers. Writers know. There I would also find the sympathy I wasn't getting from my firework obsessed teenage son who claimed his thumbs were sore. This transpired on the 4th of July. Now, I know what you're thinking, "How irresponsible to not go straight to the doctor." In my defense, I always go...once I determine what my diagnosis should be.

And on that note, possible causes of why writers may shout, "OUCH! My Hands Hurt!" as I did 40 times yesterday, whenever my son was in hearing range:

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME suggested by @salamicat

This occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old, and is more common in women than men.
Symptoms are:
  • Numbness or tingling in the thumb and next two or three fingers of one or both hands
  • Numbness or tingling of the palm of the hand
  • Pain extending to the elbow
  • Pain in wrist or hand in one or both hands
  • Problems with fine finger movements (coordination) in one or both hands
  • Wasting away of the muscle under the thumb (in advanced or long-term cases)
  • Weak grip or difficulty carrying bags (a common complaint)
  • Weakness in one or both hands
In addition to seeing a doctor, experts recommend wearing splints at night. In the worst case scenario, surgery may be necessary but with a high success rate after recovery.


  • Pain in the arm, back, shoulders, wrists, or hands (typically diffuse – i.e. spread over many areas).
  • The pain is worse with activity.
  • Weakness, lack of endurance.
In contrast to carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms tend to be diffuse and non-anatomical, crossing the distribution of nerves, tendons, etc. They tend not to be characteristic of any discrete pathological conditions. Yeah, I copied and pasted that from Wikipedia.

@GwenMcCauley made a useful observation that in addition to taking a break and receiving (another) massage, I ought to consider what I was writing. In fact, the emotional nature of my current work, which I described as "nerve wracking" did lend itself to tension and strain. Good cause to take a break.

However, those two common causes do not rule out the possibility of paralytic shellfish poisoning. And if my face and legs had been numb as well AND I was overtaken by a sensation of floating, I would return to the budget Chinese restaurant I had prawns at last night and demand a refund.

I'm most likely to ask my doctor about neuropathy, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa, also known as NARP. Undeniably, I fear this rare genetic disorder related to seizures, numbness in limbs, balance disorders, and hearing loss explains all of my symptoms. Maybe, I cannot remember having half of them yet, but I will by the time I reach the clinic.

Unless, that is, I have POEMS syndrome. Yes, when I feel my side, I'm certain my liver may well have enlarged. Oh! The irony of it all. I write one too many tasteless odes and irony, a cruel mistress! Never again.

After my initial bout of hypochondria, a cold compress, and sincere apologies to my exasperated son, I felt fine. However, I intend to visit the doctor and report my symptoms in case the problem reoccurs. Until then, I can continue researching all 74 Causes of Arm Numbness

Because its fun, informative, and the knowledge you'll garnish can trigger uncontrolled eye rolling in any doctor...or even save you from a misdiagnosis.

by Carrie Bailey
Fantasy/Sci-Fi author and host of PeevishPenman, a community blog for writers.
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