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Five Lessons Learned From De Quervain's Tendinosis

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Health issues aren't fun but hey, they happen. A couple months ago, my left hand, specifically the thumb and wrist, began aching from doing the most basic tasks. Simple things like picking up a pen to write, applying lotion, turning door knobs, doing the dishes, even sleeping, all became painful. My left thumb began popping and locking, which left me in pain and unsure how to un-pop and free my hand from the discomfort. 

A visit to the doctor confirmed De Quervain's Tendinosis, a relatively minor problem in the grand scheme of life but one that seriously impacted day-to-day life. My options were to wear a splint, lay off the hand, and wait to see if things improved. If not, I could opt for shots to the wrist. If that didn't help, the next option was surgery. I went with the splint and rest. Not the most attractive thing as seen in the picture, but the least invasive.

It's been several weeks now and I'm still unsure what caused the problem. I can't pinpoint any change in routine in terms of hand and wrist use. I theorized that the problem came from working on a computer for extended hours but put that theory to bed when I developed the same problem in my right hand while on holiday and hadn't so much as touched a computer in over a week. It still remains a mystery to me.

Since the diagnosis, I've had to seriously monitor the amount of hand activity I engaged in and stop doing all things non-essential. I've had to ask for help and rely more on others (specifically my husband) for some of the simplest tasks. It isn't easy as I'm independent and prefer to do things on my own. But it was an opportunity for me to stop, observe and reflect a bit. Here are the five things I've gleaned from myDe Quervain's Tendinosis:

  1. See the doctor if something isn't right. I waited over a month, thinking it was just a consequence of heavy lifting of groceries or a bout of overly enthusiastic house cleaning. It wasn't and I didn't start healing until I got professional medical advice. The splint doesn't look great but it's working wonders.
  2. Be patient. The doctor told me it'd be weeks before I'd start feeling relief. There's no shortcut to healing. The body needs time to repair itself. And there's no doubt the healing is taking longer because I waited to see my doctor. I'm putting my body first by taking a break and doing less. It's a wonderful excuse to get some R&R and ask a loved one for help when I need it.
  3. Release your grip. This both iterally and figuratively. I didn't realize how forcefully I held a pen in my hand until this problem developed. I have to loosen my grip and be more relaxed when I write and do a variety of other things. It's a very relatable metaphor for so much of life. There's no need to hold everything in life so tightly. Life flows as it will no matter how much I want to control its events.
  4. Appreciate your body. At any given moment, the body is running hundreds of tasks to keep you moving, breathing, living. So much we aren't even aware of and may even take for granted something goes wrong. How amazing and resilient are our bodies? If you have health and the ability to go about doing everyday things, thank your body with nutritious food, exercise, plenty of water, fresh air and love.
  5. No matter what happens it's going to be ok. When things go awry and we realize just how little control we have, the mind can go to a dark place. The most difficult thing about De Quervain's was the realization that I'm not invincible. And while I have no control over my body's healing process, I do have the ability to choose positive thoughts. Having gone through several health issues personally and with loved ones, I used to feel a wave of worry wash over me. After some time you learn this emotion doesn't fix the problem so I try not to fret but just work on healing and doing my best with whatever constraints I have. 

My tendinitis has healed quite a bit over the last few weeks though I'm still not 100%. That's alright. Our bodies are amazing machines and with a life well lived, there's a bit of wear and tear. Sometimes the problem goes away and sometimes it persists. That's life but how we deal with a problem can be as important as the problem itself.    

Have you had any health issues that made you stop and re-evaluate your mindset? 

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