Monday, August 06, 2007


On July 10th, while counting out dozens of dollar bills (not mine), I experienced sharp shooting pains up my fingers and wrists. Went to my supervisor who sent me to the Civil Service Clinic where my doctor looks like Jed Clampett and most of the staff looks like they just got out of prison (very visible tattoos, piercings, signs of past living rough). Our Civil Service always goes with the lowest bidders.

The dollar-bill counting was part of a "re-assignment" of work duties, but after 3 days, the 4-year-long (since I've been in this office) moderate numbness and ache in my hands/wrists turned into sharp pain and total numbness in the fingers. My supervisor asked me why I didn't complain officially before. I told her I was raised as an Irish Presbyterian. The supervisor didn't get it, but a fellow Irish Presbyterian coworker in our office did; she told the story of how proud her aunt was for having a heart attack at the bus stop and walking home before she called the ambulance. Hard to explain this stoicism and denial of physical limitations. It's bred in the bone, I think.

I've been going to physical therapy three times a week for the 15-20 minute ice torture, heat treatments, electrodes, stretches and exercises. I wear wrist braces day and night. I always thought these wrist braces were silly, but they do help by immobilizing your wrist movement. The problem is I feel like a grizzly bear with them on, lumbering around knocking things over. For the occasional moments of feeling a bit of sensation in my fingertips again, it's been worth it.

Add to this my grown son moving back in with me in my tiny house while he completes his externship as a phlebotomist and other family/neighborhood flutters, and I've been wiped out. I still have the grandkids on weekends also and I love them dearly, but the one-year old is teething and suddenly burst into writhing pain and disbelief, accompanied by screams and flailing of strong not-so-little fists and feet.

Also have gone to an acupuncturist, which a very sweet friend recommended and even helped pay for since insurance doesn't cover it. The acupuncturist sees the problem going up my arms to my upper shoulders. Working where I do, it's a miracle, everyone here isn't sick or injured.

I'm told that in a few weeks, I'll probably get the "nerve damage tests" which are about as painful as they sound, according to coworkers who have had them before. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I've been assigned back to my old duties, answering phones, sorting and processing mail, and other misc office duties for now. The pain doesn't get any worse, but healing is slow.

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