These Hands

In January of 2018, I noticed that I was losing flexibility in my right hand. When I was in the Downward Dog yoga pose, I realized that I couldn't bend my right wrist as easily as I could on my left. At the time, I just thought it was weird. My hand and wrist didn't hurt; they didn't bend like they used to. I chalked it up to getting older.

Several months later, I began to notice that I was losing strength in my hand too. I am right-hand dominant and feel very clumsy using my left hand. Once I started losing strength, I realized I was using my left hand more and more to make up the difference. That's about the time that the pain kicked in. My hand just wore out during the day. I had always fought numbness due to carpal tunnel, but now the pain and weakness were affecting even the simplest of tasks. I knew it was time to see a doctor.

My hands look more and more like my mother’s each and every day. I wouldn’t trade one scar, age spot or wrinkle for anything!

In January of 2019, I started the diagnostic portion of this journey. We started with x-rays, then MRI's and nerve conduction studies. The diagnosis was a dead lunate bone in my right hand. I saw a surgeon in March who recommended surgery but wanted me to think about it first and gave me a cortisone shot. I knew the shot was temporary, but it did provide immediate relief. I was shocked to be back using my hand (normally) within just a few days. When I went back to that surgeon two weeks later, he seemed pleased with my pain relief and told me to call him if it bothered me again.

I immediately found another surgeon.

What I did know about the injury was that the lunate bone needed to be removed before it damaged the cartridge in the hand. If we waited too long, and the cartridge was in bad shape, my only option was to fuse the wrist. You have to be an advocate for your own health when dealing with doctors. This is another story for another day, but I can't emphasize enough; Trust your gut when you're dealing with medical professionals.

Thankfully, I was able to get into another highly recommended surgeon the next week. He confirmed the original diagnosis and finally named it as Keinböck's Disease; a disease most commonly found in men between 20-40 years old. I am neither. This doctor also reiterated the time-sensitive nature of the solution. By the time I left his office, I was scheduled for surgery a few weeks later.

Ready for surgery at North Bay Regional Surgery Center in Novato, California. Surgeon: Noah Weiss, MD (Who is was a frequent guest and consultant on the show Myth Busters.)

In May 2019, I received a Proximal Row Carpectomy and Carpal Tunnel Release in my right hand. The procedure went well, and my recovery has been slow and steady. I keep up with my physical therapy twice a day, and I see improvement (albeit slow) each week. My prognosis is good, and within time, I should be within 90% of my original strength and flexibility.

This entire experience (and it's not over yet) has taught me the value of my hands. They are miraculous extremities. There are twenty-seven, individual bones in each hand. (I only have 24 in my right hand now.) The tasks they perform is an endless list, and unfortunately, we don't realize their significance until we can't utilize them anymore.

I had taken my hands for granted way too long. If I had sought treatment in the early stages, the bone might have been saved. But, at least I'm not facing a wrist fusion, (at least not yet.) I've found a specialist surgeon that has my full confidence after escaping one I didn't trust. Now that I'm in good hands, (pun intended) I plan on having a Carpal Tunnel Release procedure done on the left hand in a few months. I vow to take better care of my hands in the future so they'll be there for me when I need them.