But I was in a salty mood as I sat on my back patio with a cup of coffee late yesterday morning. Yes, the coffee tasted wonderful. Yes, the smell of the earth carried with it a whiff of spring. Yes, the sun was warm on my face. And all I could think about was the fact that I had to lift the coffee cup with two hands because neither one of mine was operating at full capacity.
You see, I’ve had a major flare-up of carpal tunnel inflammation in the past 3 weeks and nothing I’ve done – taking time off, employing wrist rests, staying off the computer and smart phone after I leave work, dosing myself with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, wearing wrist braces – has helped. Today, my doctor prescribed steroids in a last-ditch attempt to avoid surgery. For someone who has never experienced so much as a twinge of pain or discomfort that could be linked to carpal tunnel, this has been a real eye opener of an experience.
My life for the past 3 weeks has been pain-filled and miserable. I have to think before I reach for a doorknob. I can’t hold a fork properly. I can’t sign my name. I have to lift a coffee cup with two hands and I have to be careful when getting dressed so as not to cause shooting pains from my fingertips to my elbows. Turning a key in a lock has become an almost overwhelming challenge. It is exhausting!!
This experience has given me a powerful and profound sense of respect and understanding for workers who experience chronic pain as the result of work-related injuries. After 3 weeks, I’m throwing in the towel and screaming, “Uncle!” I can’t even imagine living with this pain day in and day out indefinitely, yet millions of people do.
From the outside, I look the same as always. On the inside, I’m tired, aching, aggravated, frustrated and miserable. The next time I wonder why someone is acting so surly when they appear to have no reason to be, I’m going to think about the past 3 weeks of my life, because looks can be deceiving.