The nerve of that guy!

A comment that updates & expands the “Partial Social Media Bankruptcy” note I offered at Facebook & Twitter. To wit, it’s likely to be even “less of the web” for a few days, weeks or possibly months.

The title’s significance may become evident.

Wednesday, August 2

My wife went in for (planned and very much needed) carpal tunnel release surgery, which meant her right/dominant hand would be in a lower-arm/hand splint for a week, then a removable splint for another week. Basically one-handed…and that hand needs different attention later. Oh, and with thumb arthritis issues on the other hand to be addressed at a later date.

I figured I’d step back from stuff and spend as much time as needed providing a helping hand. (We also purchased an Etak Deluxe One-Handed Paring Board with Rocker Knife, and it’s a marvelous device for one-handed paring, peeling, opening jars, and lots more. Highly recommended.) Anyway…

I was just a little unsteady to & from the outpatient clinic; I attributed this to getting up VERY early.

Thursday, August 3

She’d done so much advance preparation–and the Etak is such a great device–that she didn’t need very much help. But she noticed a little continuing instability in my walk, and I noticed that I had white noise in my right ear. At dinner, she said “Smile” and informed me that the right side of my mouth was drooping. Fortunately, I passed the other “911 he’s stroking out” tests [e.g. holding arms out straight, touching nose with finger, etc.,) so we agreed that if it wasn’t better Friday morning I should call my doctor.

Friday, August 4

It wasn’t better. It was somewhat worse. I called to make an appointment. My primary care doctor wasn’t in on Friday; when I described my symptoms to the receptionist, she had me on hold for a few seconds, then said “Go to the emergency room.” Not quite “call 911” but “get in here now.”

We went to ER. After initial tests, the ER doctor thought it looked like Bell’s palsy, but wanted to check with a neurologist–as it happens, the neurologist who tested for nerve conductivity in the nerve damaged an March 2016 (when I had a Schwannoma, a benign nerve sheath tumor, removed from my right forearm). She didn’t find any, and the last three fingers of my right hand still can’t be lifted when the wrist’s steady or lifted–I’m now a seven-fingered typist. But that was 2016.

Now, after an MRI,  she discussed the symptoms, tried a couple quick tests, and thought it was more likely to be a minor stroke. And wanted me to stay overnight and get more tests…

A ultrasound/echocardiogram, neck ultrasound, second MRI with contrast, and an odd night (including alerting nurses when the person in the other bed fell on his way to the bathroom–at 3 a.m.) later… and, of course, my wife driving to & from the hospital twice, with one arm barely mobile…

Saturday, August 5

Symptoms… drooping mouth a little worse, drooping right eyelid, and–as it turns out–blinking doesn’t fully shut the right eyelid, and I can’t shut just that eyelid at all. After looking at these, reviewing the various tests, reviewing the second MRI especially, etc., they conclude that the first diagnosis was right: Bell’s palsy, “a nerve disorder that usually happens suddenly and without warning.” No clear cause, but usually a virus, such as a cold sore (a flareup of herpes simplex).

And yes, going to ER was appropriate, because the symptoms are similar to those of a stroke. Fortunately, Bell’s palsy is “rarely serious” and usually subsides in a few weeks without treatment. But one aspect of it–one eyelid not working properly–means the eye needs to be kept closed so it doesn’t dry out and damage the cornea, and with one eye closed there’s no depth perception, and so no driving (and the instability’s not quite gone, another issue even for walking). [Also probably the only connection I’ll ever have to Angelina Jolie: she supposedly had Bell’s palsy.]

I’m on prednisone and valtrex [respectively corticosteroid and antiviral], both for a week, and finally on baby aspirin forever, like most older men. I’d assumed that I’d finally lose my old status of  being over 70, male, and *not* on any continuing prescription drugs, but since it’s not a stroke and y cholesterol panel and other results were fine, I may retain that odd status for a while longer.

And beyond…

So does the post title make sense now? Seems like when  I do have problems they’re nerve-related

For the nonce, I’m spending much less time online and much more time resting, listening to music with my eyes closed, and of course helping my wife (she could only prepare veggies etc. so far ahead, so come tomorrow I’ll start learning/practicing more food prep. Cheerfully.)

I may not be around much. Haven’t read any tweets or status since early Friday morning and won’t even think about catching up. Some day, it will be better…

Oh, by the way: keeping one eye closed did not earn me the Dread Pirate Walt badge. The patch with a strap protects the eye from light but does nothing to keep the eye closed. I’m using boring combinations of gauze pads and adhesive eye patches (my beady little eyes are too sunken for the adhesive patch to work by itself): not dashing, but seems to work. And lots of eye drops and closing both eyes frequently for the break periods in which I get to use both eyes.

In case it’s not obvious: this–my situation and my wife’s–is a damn nuisance but a temporary one. No sympathy requested or required, and certainly not comparable to ongoing ability issues!

[Special thanks to my wife–39 great years and counting–and my brother and sister-in-law.]

Now I’m gonna go check on a couple of things and log off.


Update, Wednesday August 8:

So how’s it going?

Well…

Tuesday 3 a.m.: When you’re a little unstable and wearing an eyepatch and going to bed, maybe it’s not the ideal time to resume every-other-night wearing of a full-hand right resting splint…

…and getting up in the middle of the night for the usual reason, not sitting long enough, heading for the step up in the (all tiled) area near the door, noticing (I did have a flashlight) you’re too close, reaching out on the side you can’t see (eyepatch) with the hand that’s really a cloth-covered slab to steady yourself…

…kaboom, not falling badly but managing to hit forehead just above (left) eye on door on the way down. Wife appropriately upset, cleaned up bloody hands (not really that much blood, but), had a “911?” conversation, assured ourselves no concussion, no broken bones, not even any blood or serious bumps other than the one.

Was admonished NOT TO GET UP without waking my wife, who guided me Tuesday early. The wound was narrow but deep and not really bleeding, so we checked urgent care hours, then I called my regular doctor (just down the hall), who had an opening a couple hours after urgent care would have opened.

Saw her. She was great. Didn’t need to add sutures. Did provide excellent suggestion on stability–and as it turns out we already have a cane.

So I’m bloodied and bowed, moving slowly with right hand on a cane. *Not* wearing eye patch during the day (closing eyes at least once a minute, and the blink’s getting better). Won’t be driving for a bit longer. Everything takes 2-3 times as long, and resting a LOT. As I should. Other symptoms actually improving (I can furrow both sides of my brow, my smile is less ghastly, the blink is at least halfway there)–but gait/stability problems were first to show and probably last to go. Feeling like a weary little old man, but then again…

Leave a Reply

Comments will be closed on October 5, 2017.

Comments Protected by WP-SpamShield Spam Plugin