Adventures in Neuropathy

Last updated 2018-06-17 13:27:35 SGT

Thursday 4th January

Wake up without the ability to feel the bottom of the last two fingers of left hand. Hand otherwise functional. Sit out winter storm by curating local copy of Civ6 soundtrack & writing blog post.

Friday 5th January

No change in condition after resting for 2 days. Resolve to seek medical advice the next day. Meanwhile trying to read up on functional integration.

Saturday 6th January

Diagnosed with ulnar nerve entrapment at left elbow. During visit, doctor notices that am unable to extend index finger of left hand away from centre of hand. Am prescribed rest & ibuprofen. Spend remainder of day installing patched version of wxWidgets with bugfix for a Pineapple issue, and arguing with Konstantin.

Sunday 7th January

Unable to type properly with index finger of left hand, owing to weakness in lifting & straightening the finger. Notice loss of sensation on outside of left palm. Procure ibuprofen in -20 °C weather and begin prescription. Hand starts swelling over course of day. Attempt to read paper on helioseismic holography.

Monday 8th January

Wake up thinking that I can now flex the first dorsal interosseal muscle again. Cue lots of finger-wagging. Sadly delusion does not last.

Tuesday 9th January

Wake up lucid. Definitely am able to flex first dorsal interosseal muscle. Either this ability goes away once I assume a standing position, or I'm still delusional.

Thursday 11th January

Medical appointment at Yale Health. Prescription changed from 200mg ibuprofen to 500mg naproxen. Undergo x-ray and am scheduled for a nerve conduction test. Meanwhile, begin side project (asteroseismic Δν asymptotics) for this semester.

Thursday 25th January

Naproxen runs out with no change in condition. Nerve conduction test still not yet scheduled. Freak out and manage to arrange two specialist appointments in the same week, exactly one month away.

Thursday 1st February

Nerve conduction test (EMG) indicates ulnar nerve compression in forearm around elbow.

Thursday 22nd February

7 weeks after start of condition, am referred to an additional 6 weeks of physical therapy. First available appointment to evaluate suitability for physiotherapy is on the 12th of March.

Monday 12th March

First possible appointment for physiotherapy is on the 5th of April. I'm starting to sense a theme here.

Sunday 1st April

There's no mistaking it, I'm definitely getting some sensation back in the fingers! I'm also definitely recovering some use of the interosseal muscles (Fromet's sign gone)

Sunday 17th June

Not much change in symptoms since last update. After about 5 sessions of physiotherapy (spread out over 8 weeks because more scheduling issues), my grip strength seems to have improved (from 2/3 to about 5/6 of master hand, according to the last checkup I had done in early May). I'm now able to carry groceries up to Helen Hadley without needing to rest my left hand. Although I think that the sensation in my left hand is still improving, qualitatively it is difficult for me to compare the intensity of the static numbness as it's changed over time (particularly over a baseline that is now half a year long).

In the meantime I've taken my quals (18th May), fixed bugs in Pyneapple (which I now use almost exclusively instead of Pineapple), and the side project has turned into a conference talk at TASC in July.

As of now, the remaining issues are mostly quality-of-life — my typing speed is mostly back up, but I still can't play the piano properly, although this may be exacerbated by 6 months of no practice. When I went home for 3 weeks after my quals, the only issue I encountered was some difficulty fully depressing the seat-recline button on the airplane with my left hand. My hand only tingles when I clap (rather than with any motion of the left arm). Having to keep my left arm straight while typing has forced me to adopt more ergonomic workspace configurations, which might be better for my posture in the long run.

I'll probably be OK.

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