Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Stress

***TL:DR I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Posts will be shorter and I might be doing some repeats. Guest Posts appreciated.***

Hello,

I’ve been a fool. Since February, my work has been fairly busy and regular. It’s a lot of short keys, typing, and mouse work. I’ve been having pain in my hands for a while now.

I wrote about it for the Spoonie Author’s Network. At the time, the Doctor thought it was the same arthritis that was in my big toes. After a year of tests he eliminated that option. We thought it was maybe tendinitis and he sent me to physio.

My prescription for physio was written in February 2020. I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to risk getting my children sick and was experiencing long covid. A few weeks turned into a few months and then a few years.

The pain came and went, but was usually worse when my hands were cold. So I didn’t worry. I kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.”

Fast forward to last November and I noticed my arms getting numb when I slept. (I sleep on my sides and it was the ones that I didn’t sleep on that went numb.) The pain got worse around Christmas, but got better after 2 weeks off.

Then we went into report season at work and I started writing a new book. So my days looked like this: Work 8 hours, Ukulele practice 15-45 minutes, and then 1-2 hours writing, formatting, etc. I’m also the primary diaper changer in the family… so… yeah.

The pain got worse and worse and I just kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.” and, “It’ll get better when I have less clicky work.”

Then Monday, I was told by my bosses that I had to come into the physical building of work. The meeting was tense and I won’t lie, I felt attacked. We’re so close to an infant vaccine for Pegasus… I asked if I could wait until September and they refused. “Isolating is a choice we made. Coming in to work is my responsibility.” That’s a paraphrase, but arg. I’m still angry.

I’m not sure what I did during that meeting to myself, but after, my pain in my arms and hands went from a 5 (Interrupts some activities) to 8 (Hard to do anything) the pain has been fluctuating from 6-8 since.

I made an appointment with my doctor, but he couldn’t see me until a week later. I was in tears as I tried to figure out what to do. I eventually decided to go to the after-hours clinic and saw a wonderful doctor. He diagnosed me with confidence after asking some insightful questions. He gave me two weeks off work, tests for my family doctor, and a prescription for splints to sleep with. Now it’s a waiting game. I’m seeing my doctor next week and so far, after 3-4 days, I’m still in a lot of pain. This post is taking forever to write, but I’m taking lots of breaks.

I’m worried that my reticence to see the doctor will result in permanent damage. It shouldn’t have taken a level 8 pain or my bosses showing how little they care about me to make me listen to my body and get help. The moment the pain started to increase, I should have made appointments.

I didn’t want to let my family down, I didn’t want to let myself down, and I didn’t want to let my work down. It was foolish! Work doesn’t care about me, they never really have, family only want me to be healthy, and I’m more disappointed now than if I had been treated earlier.

Expect this blog to have shorter posts (this took most of a day with breaks). I’ll let you know what happens.

At least I’m getting a lot of snuggles.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Long COVID?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I swear I’ll get back to writing about writing and how cute my kids are soon.

Two years ago, my family and I went to Disney World. Baby Pegasus, at 7 months, got sick. He had a moderate fever and we were leaving that day.

As I was playing with him, he sneezed into my mouth. Parenting is sooo glamorous.

Sick baby Pegasus lying on the floor asleep

We did what we thought was best and took him home as fast as I we could. At the airport, we gave him crushed up tylenol and hoped for the best.

I started feeling off on the plane. By the time we got home, I had chills, aches, and a fever too. We visited the clinic and the doctor said that both of our lungs were clear and to keep an eye out for trouble breathing. She said, “Even if it’s the new virus, we don’t have the testing to check.”

Jen and Dragon had mild fevers, but nothing else.

The next few days were a blur of pain and half sleep. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t have the kids snuggle me without pain in my chest. Everything hurt like I’d sprained it. Nothing I’ve ever experienced compared to the amount of constant pain. (Keep in mind that I once needed to have my throat lanced from a blister caused by strep throat.)

I was so weak that I couldn’t make coffee. That sounds like a joke, but I have a point. When I recovered enough to try and restart my normal routine, I started making myself coffee. I didn’t like the taste. It was warm and mildly sweet, but there was nothing else there. I tried to make it stronger and couldn’t tell.

In retrospect, I should have come to the conclusion that I’d caught COVID, but things were stressful and I was going back to work after my parental leave. I assumed I just needed to get my taste for it back. I also remember at that time, that I only really enjoyed salty or spicy food because it was all I could taste.

Father and son knocked out and feeling terrible.

Over the past two years I’ve noticed a few things about myself:

  • I am easily irritable
  • It’s harder to catch my breath
  • I started having trouble sleeping even when exhausted
  • I’m always tired
  • I’m always fatigued
  • I have a harder time concentrating
  • I forget stuff
  • I constantly have a headache

I thought it was the baby not sleeping, the stress of a worldwide pandemic, or returning to work.

Looking back through I see that some of those things have been getting better. I can now taste coffee although it does taste different. Even though it smells the same, it feels like weird Berenstain Bears Effect. The fatigue is getting better. I used to be able to do one thing a day and I’d be wiped. Showering would destroy all my energy and now it’s back to making me feel better.

I still have a lot of the other issues, the fatigue combined with insomnia is hardest to deal with. It makes me hate going to sleep. I also wake up in all kinds of pain.

So… I guess I have long COVID, and according to my doctor, there’s nothing I can do about it. Thankfully I work from home and have an amazing family.

My big worry is if it affected the kids. How the hell do you tell if it affected a 3yo or 7mo? They’ve changed so much that there’s no real way to tell. It seems like they’re fine and I really hope they don’t suffer any long-term effects.

Hopefully, with full vaccination and some common sense we can avoid this happening to them because I’m telling you, it sucks. I feel like I’ve aged twenty years.

Very serious faces from father and Pegasus

When someone tells you, “It’s just a cold” or “We should just get it over with,” they’re wrong. Get vaccinated, wash your hands, wear a mask, and don’t get it if you can avoid it.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Pegasus – Baths

Hello My Little Pegasus,

A few months ago, you had shellfish in pasta sauce. You had a really bad night. From that and another incident, we have been assuming that you have an intolerance. (No breathing issues or hives, just puking and upset stomach.) We’ll have to get you tested post Covid, but until then, we’ve been trying to avoid it.

Unfortunately, we gave you some food a two weeks ago that had been cooked with shrimp. You didn’t puke, but you had really bad diarrhea. I was tired and very surprised and I didn’t react great. I had to bring you to the other bathroom and clean you there, a quick shower seemed the right idea, but I think it might have been a little traumatizing for you.

Unrelated but adorable picture of Pegasus sleeping.

So baths haven’t been much fun lately. You seem terrified you’ll poop in the tub unless you’ve already pooped. Even then, you don’t seem to enjoy and play the way you did before the incident. I’m sorry I didn’t handle it well and I hope I haven’t ruined baths for you.

This weekend, you watched Dragon’s bath and she had a great time, so hopefully that will help. I’ll probably try a bath with both of you together and see how that goes.

I hope we can go back to you loving the water. It’s hard to bathe you when you don’t want to be.

Time will tell.

I love you little Pegasus,

Papa

Dear Pegasus – First Puke Night

Dear Pegasus,

Last night you woke up and puked large un-chewed chunks of zucchini and little tiny seafood. It wasn’t fun for anyone. (Dragon didn’t wake up, so not bad for her.)

Two baths, three sheets, four pyjamas, and lots of sad looks later, you fell asleep.

You were so afraid of lying down that you insisted on sitting up in my lap. Every time you nodded off, you had this look of worry on your face.

At one point, close to 3:20, you settled into my arm, looked up at me, sighed deeply, and said, “Papa.” It was so soft and sad. You settled into sleep not long after and you insisted on being held while you slept.

A hard night and lots of worry, but you’re fine now and it’s hopefully not going to be a new trend.

I hate not being able to do anything to make it better, but hopefully holding you helped make you feel more comfortable falling asleep. You seem okay now and are happily playing.

Not looking forward to tonight. Hopefully you won’t associate puking with sleep. I also hope this isn’t a new habit.

Love you!

Papa

Arg. and NaNoWriMo Cursed

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m feeling pretty crappy right now. Some sort of bowel/indegestion/pain/thing. I had decided to do NaNoWriMo sort of but I’m starting to think I’m cursed. This will be the fifth year I’m not feeling well at the beginning of November. Sometimes it was just allergies but a few times it’s been like this. sigh. I’ll still try once I can concentrate.

So short post but enjoy this adorable picture of the brood at halloween.

Good luck to those that are writing!

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

It’s Just Allergies

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have recently been no-so-subtly accused of faking sick. It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I’m used to the usual scenario where I mentioned to someone that I have severe allergies and they either nod condescendingly or roll their eyes.

I get it, seriously, if you’ve never had to deal with allergies it’s easy to dismiss. I mean the most common portrayal of people with allergies in movies and television are either ridiculous nerds or hypochondriacs, mostly both. (I’m looking at you Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis.)

Even people with mild allergies don’t fully understand what it can be like. They’ll have the sniffles in spring or get red itchy eyes when they pet a cat.

I’ve lost track of the amount of times people have told me, “Oh yes, I’m allergic to cats too but you get used to it living with them.”

So here’s a short partial list of things I’m allergic to:

  • Cat hair and dander
  • Dog hair and dander
  • Oak pollen
  • Spruce pollen
  • Poplar pollen
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Grass itself and the pollen
  • Dust and Dust Mites
  • Mould
  • Bees
  • Mosquitos
  • Coconut milk and coconut oil

That’s the most common and it’s about a quarter of the things I’m allergic to. Also among the worst.

Symptoms

I am extremely lucky not to have anaphylaxis. My throat has never fully closed and I’ve never had a seizure. Every person reacts differently to allergies, despite what the commercials try to tell you.

My milder symptoms are mostly itchy ears, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose, itchy throat, and hives.

The more severe symptoms are nasal pressure, diarrhea, nausea, breathing difficulties, and sleepiness.

The absolute worst symptom is the weakness. When I get hit with a bad allergy attack I’m weak as a kitten. Before I got the shots, I had days were getting out of bed was such a struggle that I burst veins in both my eyes from the effort of sitting up. I always make the joke of, “Who turned up the gravity?” because it feels like everything is extra heavy and draining.

The weakness means that around Christmas time I usually feel like total shit. If that sounds odd think about what happens when business and people bring out decorations that have been in basements and attics, bring in dying trees, or bring out old dusty trees. What happens is the amount of indoor mould and dust skyrocket.

Linked Conditions

As if those symptoms aren’t bad enough, allergies cause and aggravate secondary conditions.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

This is a fun thing where your body thinks you’re ingesting your allergy when you eat something else. Basically, certain raw fruits and veggies have proteins that are similar to pollen.

If I eat a raw apple my tongue tingles and mouth itches because my body thinks I’m eating Oak pollen. Thankfully this doesn’t happen with cooked fruits. Before the shots, my throat would start to close.

My wife still laughs about the time I told her, “Isn’t it cool that celery is a little spicy?” Apparently it’s not supposed to be spicy.

IBS

I think it’s because my body is weakened but during a bad allergy day, my IBS becomes ten times worse.

Migraines

The nasal pressure combined with stress will trigger migraines. My vision blurs, I get dizzy, I lose sense of time, I feel like I’m going to puke, and my head hurts more than any pain I’ve experienced.

Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia

This is a combination of antihistamines and fall out from the other symptoms.

It’s hard to concentrate or feel good about yourself when just going to the washroom is exhausting.

If I have a certain type of antihistamine, I get shaky, and feel like my entire body is vibrating. It lasts for 12 hours and makes sleeping hard.

Bad Day?

So I’ve talked about bad days. I’ll be completely honest that on my best day I still have most of the mild symptoms. That’s despite having done shots for 5 years and using antihistamines.

A bad day, however, happens if I am accidentally, or unavoidably, exposed to an allergen. Some it’s only once like coconut oil, coconut milk, or bug venom, some it has to be prolonged like dust, mould, or trees.

Either way, a bad is a day I can barely move, feel sick, and just generally want to die. I’ve done work during those days, but it’s not my best work since I’m totally out of it. Most of the time I have enough energy to watch tv, shower (the steam does wonders for my nose), and eat.

What Now?

So what do I want you to do about this? Nothing. I just wanted to vent and explain what it’s like being me. Hopefully it’ll make you more compassionate to people with allergies.

Mostly, if I tell you I’m not feeling well, know that I’m not lying.

 

Thank you for reading,

Éric

Sick Week

sick_day

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been sick since Sunday. It’s a typical spring cold with coughing, sore throat, stuffy nose, aches, pains, and a total inability to think. It has effectively rendered me useless all week beyond eating, sleeping, and Dragon wrangling.

Speaking of Dragon, she’s been sick about the same amount of time. Add that to her teething, we’re at 5 and can feel the 6th, and no one is getting much sleep. Jen also got sick as of Tuesday.

With my severe allergies, spring until early July is a really bad time for me.

Long story short I have a lot of work that I should have done this week that wasn’t done.

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WARNING BLOG HIJACKED BY DRAGON

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Sorry about that. I should get back to cuddling the sick little Dragon.

To a healthier and more productive next week,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Six Months

Six months

Dear Baby Dragon,

You turned six months old on Sunday and as I write this you’re playing on your mat making adorable sounds and rotating to the toy you want to chew on.

The past week or so has been tough; you caught your first cold and have been leaking from your nose. It’s gotten to the point where you start screaming when you see a tissue. You’re getting better now and I look forward to not hearing you be all phlegmy.

Crawling is about to happen any day. You get up on your hands and knees and rock back and forth. Sometimes you’ll army crawl. You also love to pretend that you’re skydiving.

Added to your screeching (Curse you DanIsNotOnFire) is growling, babbling, and a lot of giggles. Honestly, there is nothing better than hearing you laugh. It’s filled with such pure joy and love. I could listen to it all day.

One thing I really wish you’d stop doing is grabbing and pinching. I know you don’t understand that it hurts us and you’re just trying to keep your balance but it’s a real pain.

It’s been a wonderful six months with you and I wish I could spend more time but you’ll be eight and a half months when I have to go back to work. I’m doing everything I can to remember and appreciate this time together.

Well, I have a diaper to change.

Love you lots and lots my Little Dragon,

Your Papa

 

 

The January 2017 Vacation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When my wife was pregnant, someone recommended that we should take a vacation with the baby. It would help get the baby used to travelling, get us out of the house, and not use any vacation days. It was a great idea and I don’t regret the vacation in the least. However, some have called it THE VACATION FROM HELL.

We went with my fantastic Mother in-law and Sister in-law. The plan was to spend six days at Disney and three at Universal. We wanted to do the whole resort thing so that Jen could be more comfortable selling it as a vacation. The first five days were wonderful and exhausting. The baby slept 9-11 hours a night (and on most rides), the food was good, the transportation was okay, and the rooms were good.

IMG_20170109_180908_1
Moana said that Keladry was going to be an excellent way-finder. She thought it was cute that Keladry didn’t wake up at all!

Day six was going to be our second day at Magic Kingdom, but my poor Mother in-law was sick over the night. At first, we were all delusionally hoping it was food poisoning or an allergy attack. Her being hypoglycemic meant we were extra worried for her and after a few more revisitations-of-previous-foods, my Father in-law (still at home) told us to send her to the hospital. It’s also at this point that he decided to fly in and save us.

So my Mother in-law goes to the hospital and my Sister in-law goes with her to make sure everything is ok and keep us updated. That leaves me, the Dragon, and Jen in the hotel room wondering what to do and worrying. We did some laundry (thank you Disney resorts).

My Father in-law tells us not to waste the day and go to Magic Kingdom anyways. We went and had fun but it was always under the shadow of worry. On our way home, we learnt that my Mother in-law was coming back from the hospital and everything was fine.

My wife spoke to a manager at our resort and got us some free tickets for our trouble and reimbursement for the taxi that brought them home. (Really awesome of Disney!)

This is the point where a sane individual would start wondering what had happened. I stubbornly stuck to the food allergy story.

The next day, everyone was exhausted and we needed to checkout and move to Universal. We met in the resort’s cafeteria and hogged a section of wall for all our luggage and waited for our ride and my Father in-law who had arrived and rented a car.

We all transferred to Universal. The transfer company that drove us let us have a grocery stop. Our suites at Universal were great. At this point, to avoid the parental in-law snoring, we had my sister in-law sleep in our suite.

We spent the night chatting and relaxing. The next day we were going to Universal parks and seeing all the stuff we didn’t normally have a chance to see. We planned on leaving at 10am. Jen was sick at 9:45am.

We spent the day in the hotel, except for a short walk on my part to give everyone a rest from the baby. Here’s the thing about spending five or six days with an infant, showing them all kinds of cool stuff and hundreds of people; they get a little stir crazy if you just suddenly stop.

That night my Sister in-law failed her fortitude save to what we are now sure was a Norovirus.

The next day, I decided I wanted to get the baby a Harry Potter Hogwarts onesie and I’d walk to the parks. I was dissuaded from taking the baby (I don’t produce milk for her). I arrived at the City Walk to find out that the best merchandise is in the parks.

As a travel agent Jen had a free ticket. I had her passport and decided to try and sweet-talk my way into the parks. Apparently, a patient attitude and a sob story about a sick family will get them to let you use your wife’s ticket.

At this point I was convinced I was going to be fine. I escaped the plague people and hadn’t caught it yet. So I walked the entirety of both parks on a mission for souvenirs, onesies, and butterbeer. I took the Hogwarts Express between the parks.

IMG_20170115_184035

Feeling guilty for having had freedom, I walked back to our hotel. While I’d been gone, my Father in-law started showing symptoms. As I fell asleep that night I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d avoided catching this plague. (sigh)

We were scheduled to fly out the next day. I got sick in the early morning after repeatedly telling everyone and fate, that I wouldn’t, but I did.

So at this point my Mother in-law is feeling crumby but recovering, same with my Sister in-Law. My father in-law is feeling like crap, and Jen is giving the baby all her antibodies and still feeling sick. I was having trouble with this whole sitting thing.

We were still ready to try and fly, but then Jen was sick again. It was decided that we’d split the group. Mother in-law and Sister in-law headed home and the rest of us stayed behind an extra day.

I vaguely remember sleeping the whole day and changing diapers. I also remember that baby decided it was a good day to start teething and screaming about it.

When we did fly out, I wasn’t sure Jen would make it all the way without being sick but she powered through. It was great to finally get home.

The entire family impressed me with their strength and patience. It’s not easy being in a room with a crying infant or someone being sick when you’re healthy.

As a last thought, I have to thank my father in-law for being there and saving us. He dropped everything at home to come help, and once there he did groceries, pharmacy runs, called to reschedule flights, extended the room, took care of everyone, took Keladry for walks, helped us get into the AC lounge, and so many other things that I’m sure I’ve forgotten or don’t know. All while getting sick, or being just as sick as the rest of us.

He’s an amazing man and his dedication, quick thinking, and ridiculously big heart make him one of the best people I know. Thank you so much.

I’d also like to say that both Disney Resorts and Universal Resorts were extremely understanding and accommodating; making a terrible situation much better.

So no more vacations for a little while. (At least a few months.)

Be healthy!

Éric