Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in 2007 after 20 years of crocheting started to take its toll on my hands. I didn’t just have it in one hand, I have it in both hands. I was given wrist splints to wear at night when I went to bed. I was told I didn’t have to wear them during the day, that they should help me when I sleep. Okay, no problem. I’ve worn them every night since then up until last year when I stopped using my bipap machine for my sleep apnea because I didn’t need it anymore because I had lost 70lbs. Wearing the bipap mask became uncomfortable because suddenly the pressure was too high.

I wore these wrist splints faithfully for 6 years from 2007 to 2013. They did help and last year I started making keychains and opened an Etsy shop. Since then I have added dangle, hoop and stud earrings and hemp and friendship bracelets. I received an order for 8 tassels for a company who makes purses, then they placed another order for 34 tassels and that took a huge toll on my hands. Someone else ordered 60 rainbow keychains. I made 36 of those and had to stop because it was hurting too much. She wanted them for her June wedding which apparently has been pushed back to November. That gives me more time to finish the rest of them, but I’m not quite sure they will follow through with buying them from me. I’ve had several people place a custom order and then not pay for it.

I’ve been working day and night making friendship bracelets over the last week. I really love making things. I don’t know if it is a gift or a curse. A gift that I can make something wonderful out of raw material with just my hands, but a curse that something I love to do can cause so much pain.

The pain is just too much on my hands. I wake up every morning with painfully numb hands and this morning my right hand was still numb for an hour after I woke up, and it was extremely painful. I put my wrist splint on and the pain and numbness eventually went away, but I am going to continue wearing the wrist splint for the rest of the day and perhaps wear it every day and night while I take a rest. I hope that helps.

Here are just a few things that I’ve been making. I am very proud of the hard work that have been doing that is ruining my hands lol.

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I had all these plans for the camouflage bracelets. I bought the different colors to make a red version and a blue version. I also had planned on buying the different shades of brown to make a brown one. People have suggested I go with a complete rainbow and make orange, yellow and purple camouflage bracelets. I can’t see that happening now.

The rainbow braid bracelet on the bottom is actually a bracelet I wanted to make for a very long time for a specific person. I actually wanted to make 2 of them, and I made this yesterday and last night I started a second one. I listed it just because it was very easy to make and if someone ordered it, well I could make another one. But now I’m not so sure about that. I do still plan on giving this one and the other one away to the specific people just because I like to give people gifts.

Well, that’s all for now I guess. Today is the first day of my new vacation from crafting. I love what I do, so I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to stay away from it. It’s addicting for sure lol. I will try though, because my hands are more important to me than making something that no one will appreciate or even buy even though they asked for it.

The nerve of some people

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The subject of this blog is not a complaint about someone’s character, rather a discussion on nerves, more particularly the nerves in my face since my Parotidectomy surgery in November.

You can read the details of my surgery in the link in the previous paragraph, or I can give you the cliff notes version.  I had a stone growing in my saliva gland and it had to be removed because it was causing a massive amount of pain.  It was removed by a surgeon at the Kern Medical Center on November 20th 2013.  It left me with a huge scar and a golf ball sized chunk taken out of my face.  It has been numb ever since, but the feeling is coming back, more importantly pain is coming back.

You see all those nerves in the diagram above?  Everything is connected.  Even though most of my face is numb, I can feel electrical impulses when I touch certain parts of my face.  If I touch my jaw line near my chin, I can feel electrical impulses in my earlobe.  If I touch anywhere near the incision area, I can also feel it all the way up my ear.  If I touch my earlobe, I can feel it in the spot on my jaw line near my chin from before.  There are certain areas that even the slightest touch can cause pain from the electrical impulses.  Even blowing on my skin can cause the feeling and possibly pain.

I’m not bothered by it as much as I probably should be because I know that my face is still healing.  The numbness is still there, but it is going away.  It’s like that pins and needles feeling you get when you sit on your foot for too long and your foot goes numb and then you get the pins and needles, although the pins and needles only shows up when I touch my face, and it doesn’t show up in the exact spot that I touch.  It’s a very strange feeling, but I am getting used to it.

The other day my partner touched my face and I recoiled in pain and he was a bit shocked at my overreaction, but he didn’t understand what I am feeling.  Heck, I didn’t quite understand it until now.

My last appointment with the surgeon at KMC was yesterday and he told me that there are more stones growing in the saliva gland on the left side of my face so eventually that will need to be taken care of like the right side, but that may take years to happen.  I am not going to worry about that until the pain comes from that.

Speaking of pain from nerves, am I having massive tooth pain and need to visit the dentist in May when my dental insurance kicks in again.  Right now all they will cover is emergency extractions and right now I am having an emergency in 3 or 4 teeth and I would much rather have fillings than more extractions.  I am using a sensitive toothpaste, but it doesn’t seem to be helping me very much.  I’ve flossed and flossed and that only makes it worse and my teeth are so jagged that they cut the floss in half and I can never get the floss out of between my teeth.  The Listerine helps numb the pain when I finish brushing, and sometimes I just swish with it just to numb the pain 3 or 4 times per day.

It seems I am always in pain.  I feel like I was the worst person in the history of humanity in a previous lifetime and I am paying for the bad karma in this lifetime.  I sometimes feel like I am earning some of my karma back by being a good person, but it doesn’t help at all.  I wonder who I was and what I did to deserve this.  Oh well, it doesn’t do any good dwelling on the past, especially a past I don’t have any memory of.

Anyway, I am looking forward for my next round of pain to end at least before my birthday lol.

Until next time…

Parotidectomy Surgery Complications

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It has been 3 weeks since I had my surgery and everything seems to be healing well.  My scar isn’t red and it isn’t too noticeable, except for the scar from the hole from where the tube was draining the fluid for 2 weeks which is quite visible, but disappears with a Band-Aid.

My face and ear are still numb, although the feeling is coming back slowly, but it is coming back.  But it still feels very strange.

The only thing that seems to have gone wrong is that I still have a saliva gland that seems to still be producing saliva with nowhere to go.  According to the image, there are three glands.  Parotid, which was removed, Submandibular and Sublingual.  The Sublingual gland is under the tongue, no problem.  The gland that is still producing saliva is my Submandibular gland which is below where the Parotid gland used to be.  It is still producing saliva, but it is not releasing into my mouth.  Instead of releasing into my mouth, it stores the saliva.

This is a really big issue because that is what my Parotid gland was doing.  It wasn’t releasing the saliva, so I was having to push (or milk) it out of the gland and into my mouth.  I have been trying to do that with this gland, but it is not releasing into my mouth, instead, I can feel it releasing under my skin.  I can tell because it tingles.  I don’t want it to release saliva inside of my body, but if it doesn’t get milked, it just gets bigger and bigger and next thing you know I will be rushed to the emergency room because of how painful it is.

The surgeon told me when I came back last week to have the tube removed that it was just some saliva that will be absorbed by my body, but I had no idea it was still producing more saliva.  I only know it is producing more saliva because I could feel it getting bigger and under more pressure when I ate some chocolate the other day.  Sweet and tangy are what seem to generate a lot of saliva for me, which over the years has been a major issue for me because when I start generating a lot of saliva after drinking orange juice, my saliva gland would get backed up and it wouldn’t release the saliva into my mouth.  That’s what I was trying to get surgery for, forget the stone, I want my saliva to be able to release into my mouth as it normally would without me having to milk it.

I can live without orange juice, which I have lived without for years because I know that sour causes this issue.  The one thing I don’t think I can live without is sweet, because I have a sweet tooth.  I love sweet flavors, such as sweet tea, or sweet coffee, or sweet oatmeal.  I can live without chocolate and cookies and so on, but I can’t avoid other sweet flavors because there is almost always something sweet.

My next appointment with the surgeon isn’t until March, but my next appointment with my regular doctor is next month and he will advise me on what to do.  I just hope by then it isn’t too painful.

I was hoping that my last post on this issue was my very last post.  I guess I jinxed myself by saying it was my last post.  This seems to be a pattern with me though.  I say I will never have to worry about something again, but then it comes back and I have to worry about it some more.  It’s a “if it can go wrong, it will” type of thing.  Murphy’s Law.  Why does Murphy seem to always be hiding in the shadows cursing me?  Darn you Murphy!

I will certainly update this issue if it becomes too unbearable and I end up in the ER or when I see my doctor in January, whichever comes first.

No More Tube!

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We went to the surgery clinic at Kern Medical Center today to have the tube removed from my neck.  It would have been removed last week if it weren’t for the fact that my surgeon is only there on Fridays, and that was the day after Thanksgiving.  I honestly did not mind having the tube for that extra week because there was still more fluids draining, so I feel the extra week was warranted.

I don’t have very much swelling anymore, thank goodness.  When I did have swelling, it felt like my stitches were going to pop so I used ice to help bring the swelling down.  I think the swelling was what hurt the most, besides of course having a tube inside my neck, which hurt like hell every time I accidentally yanked on it.

Without me even having to ask, my surgeon Dr. Trang told me that they tested the stone that was in my parotid gland and they did not find any traces of cancer.  I didn’t think there would be, but it’s good to know that there isn’t cancer anyway.  I do have more stones growing in my left parotid gland, so there is a good chance that I will have to go through this all over again in a few years.  Hopefully not, but if it happens then it happens.

You can’t even see the stitches along my ear, but you can see it behind my ear and along my neck.  You can’t see my neck in the picture above, but it’s there.  I’m not too worried about scarring.  If I have a bad scar then I will buy some scar cream, if I don’t have a scar then yea for me lol.  It really doesn’t phase me one way or the other.  I’m just glad I don’t have a stone in my parotid gland, well, I don’t have a parotid gland anymore either.

There is a mushy lump on my face down near my jaw near my ear, but Dr. Trang told me that it is just saliva that has collected in that spot and it should absorb into my body.  It will go away on its own.

The thing that I am most happy about is that it is all finished and I can move on with my life pain-free, well, until my back starts hurting again, or some other thing causes issues lol.  I know it’s going to happen, it always does.  You know the saying, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  That’s how life is for me.  It sucks, but I think it is why I am such a patient person.  That has too meanings lol.  Get it?  I’m patient as in not impatient and I am a patient as in going to the doctor’s office lol.  I thought it was funny.

If you have no clue what I am talking about, please read this post: Parotidectomy Surgery

Anyway, this is hopefully the last thing I have to say about this issue.  It’s all good!

Swelling From Surgery

December 2 2013 I had my parotidectomy surgery on November 20th, and at first I didn’t notice any swelling because I was totally numb, so if there was any swelling, the pressure didn’t bother me.  After 5 days the pressure from the swelling felt like it was going to pop my stitches.  I Googled swelling after surgery and what I read on more than a few websites was to use ice to help with the swelling, so I did, and it did help.

There is a tube sticking out of my neck that drains the fluids into a little bulb that is squeezed to create a vacuum.  The fluids were red at first, but then it turned pink and day by day it turned a lighter shade of pink, and after 5 days nothing came out, it was empty, but that was when the swelling started.  I think the swelling was preventing any fluids from coming out.  When I started using ice, fluid started coming out, but it was a dark color of red, much like the blood you see at the bottom of frozen meat.  When I stopped using ice, the fluid turned back to its pink shade, but not much is really coming out now.

My stitches seem to have turned white around the top and along my ear, but it is still black on my neck, but it is turning white.  My partner says that it looks like it is healing and there won’t be much of a scar at all.  I am sure there will be a scar, but it won’t be noticeable along my ear, but more on my neck.  If I grew a beard it would basically cover the scar up completely, but I’m not into growing beards.  For one, it itches like crazy and two, I am sure it would still be stubble after a month.  I don’t grow hair very fast on my face.  I can literally go for a whole week and it just looks like stubble, as if I haven’t shaved in a couple of days.  I can only tolerate it for one week, I have to shave because the itching drives me insane lol.

I will see the doctor on Friday to have the tube removed from my neck.  I really look forward to that because this tube is driving me crazy.  I keep accidentally pulling on it and that hurts like hell because it is stitched onto my neck.  I can see that it has been pulled out a little bit, but not too much.  When I first came home from the hospital after surgery they put tape on the tube on my shirt, and that tape only lasted for a few days and then I had to toss it.  I didn’t have any of the same or medical grade tape to keep it on my shirt, so I just let it hang loose, big mistake.  Last night I had the bright idea to use the packing tape that I use to tape the labels on the envelopes when I sell keychains and earrings on Etsy.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of that earlier.  It would have saved me a ton of pain.

The numbness is still there and it drives me crazy lol.  It is starting to go away so that’s good.  I was worried that I would start feeling pain again if the numbness went away because I ran out of the Percocet that the doctor gave to me after surgery.  I have prescription strength Ibuprofen, but I also have something that my regular doctor gave to me for the pain that is just as good as the Percocet, that is Tramadol, but I only take 1 pill twice a day unlike the Percocet which was 2 pills 4 times a day.  I do seem to be doing good without the pain meds though.  Occasionally I will feel what seems like I am being stuck with a needle multiple times in one spot, but it goes away after a few minutes.  It doesn’t hurt bad, but I expect there to be some pain considering my face was opened up and stitched back together after 4 hours.  No biggie.

So anyway, that is my update.

One more week with a tube

parotid gland surgery week 2

Last week on November 20th I had my surgery to remove my Parotid gland because I had a stone that was basically the size of a marble which was preventing saliva from being released into my mouth.

If yesterday was not Thanksgiving, today I would be at the surgery clinic getting the tube removed from my neck.  Since the surgeon is only in the surgery clinic on Fridays, I will have to wait another week to have the tube removed.  It’s been more than a few days since anything drained into the tube, so it’s not doing me any good being in there.

I’ve had more pain in the last few days from the swelling than I had when I first had the surgery.  There didn’t seem to be too much swelling in the beginning, it only started swelling after 5 days.  Today it still seems swelled up, but the pressure isn’t bothering me.  Then again, the day isn’t over yet and I’m thinking about getting the ice pack to help the pressure.

It doesn’t seem to be as red today as it has been so that is a good sign.  When I say red, I don’t mean the sutures, I mean my cheek and ear.  It seems from the picture to be a good healthy color.

Next Friday can’t come quick enough though because I really can’t wait for this tube to be removed lol.  It’s more embarrassing than anything.  Last night I went to our neighbors house and totally forgot myself and I went over there with just my shirt and jeans.  I should have remembered to wear my hoodie so I could have covered my head and my tube.  It didn’t freak anyone out except for me lol.  Oh well.

Day 5 After Parotidectomy Surgery

surgery scar 5 days

My surgery was on November 20th so it has been 5 days and I thought I would take a picture to show my progress.  It appears that my ear is swelling up and my face is a lot redder than it was.  I had just gotten out of the bath tub when I took the picture on the right, but it has been more than an hour since then and it is still just as red.  All of the red area is completely numb.

The way the doctor cut my face and stitched it up was perfect.  He followed my ear all the way down and went behind my ear lobe before going down following the line of my beard.  Genius!  In my opinion, he did an excellent job.  I saw pictures of other people who had the same surgery and their incisions didn’t look this good, so I feel very blessed that I had such an artist.

My face has a golf ball sized hole in front of my ear where my gland used to be swollen.  I figured it would have filled in by now, but it is still dented.  I’m sure it will fill in, I’m not worried about that.  It is still numb too.

The only thing that isn’t numb is where the tube is sticking out.  I don’t really care too much for having a tube sticking out of my neck.  It would be awesome if I didn’t have to have it in me for 2 whole weeks.  It was supposed to be removed after 7 days, and they even wrote a note on the paperwork that said “Follow-up KMC ENT Clinic next Friday.”  Well, that is the day after Thanksgiving and they are closed that day.  The reason they said Friday and not Wednesday is because that surgeon is only in the surgery clinic on Friday.  I guess he is the only one who can take the tube out so I will have to wait until December 6th.

I have been catching up on my sleep.  Today I woke up to the sound of my alarm on my phone to tell me to take my pills at 8am.  I had other pills to take at 10am and it had to wake me up again for those.  Then my partner woke me up at 12:30pm and I decided I wanted to get out of bed.  I don’t like sleeping the day away lol.

Another good thing about this is that I am losing weight again.  That’s not always a good thing because the reason I am losing weight is because of the medication, but I am using that to my advantage.  I am normally always hungry, so since I don’t feel too hungry all the time, I am eating the same amount of food I ate when I lost 70lbs.  I have been eating a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerio’s for breakfast with a banana and Silk Vanilla Light Almond Milk.  I ate a Yoplait light Strawberry yogurt at 10am which is my usual snack time and I ate a Weight Watchers Smart Ones meal with Fettuccine Alfredo and Chicken.  It is my 3pm snack time now so I will have a banana, then at dinner I will have another Weight Watchers Smart Ones meal.

When I stopped losing weight in July, I was still eating this same diet, although I was eating a little bit more food and I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep which seems to be the key.  I am getting more sleep now and eating the right foods, so I am losing weight again.  When I stopped losing weight I was 192lbs, but then I went back up to 202lbs and fluctuated between 202 and 210.  Last week when I had my surgery I was 208.  Today I am 199.8.  So I will just keep doing what I am doing to help get me back down to 192.  Whatever it takes, right?  This was the boost I needed and hopefully I will continue to lose weight.

Well, back to bed I go.