Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bad Times

For over a month, the ring finger and pinky finger of my left hand have been numb. After about 4 weeks, I saw my doctor about it. He seemed concerned and scheduled me for a couple tests. The X-ray of my neck was normal but then last Wednesday, I had a nerve conductance and EMG test. The nerve conductance part was interesting. They taped or hooked electrodes to different parts of my hand and wrist and then administered shocks of various strengths to different places.

The EMG part of the test was not fun. For that, they stuck needles in different parts of my hand and arm, apparently to measure the strength of the electrical signals my nerves are producing. The needles were very small but a couple of the placements were quite uncomfortable. Also, after getting a baseline (by twitching the needle she just stuck in my arm, I mean WTF?!) the doctor would ask me to tense a muscle in a particular way. One time, I did so much too quickly and too hard and believe me, it wasn’t a mistake I repeated twice. It really didn’t feel good when that happened. And finally, the needle she put into my tricep felt like being stung continuously by an angry bee. It also left a visible bruise. I suppose that needle was more painful because of the extra fat it had to go through to get to the muscle.

The whole test changed what was a mild day for my numbness to a bad day and my hand felt worse the rest of that day and the next. It also left aches, similar to arthritis, I think, in my wrist and elbow for the rest of the day. The result of the test, the testing doctor told me there is a problem with my ulnar nerve (duh) and it is causing damage (did she just say damage? I’d like to know what that means.) to the muscles it feeds. She also said we should take it seriously and my doctor would tell me more about what that means.

So now, I am waiting. My doctor didn’t call me on Thursday or Friday. The not knowing is gnawing at me inside. Fortunately, my wife is a saint because she has had to put up with a miserable spouse for a week and a half now. I don’t know how she does it.

When I saw my doctor about it the first time, he told me to stop lifting weights until he finds out what is wrong. As much as I’ve been looking forward to, and enjoying my lifting sessions, not lifting has been very hard on me. My mood is way, way, way down. I started the Couch to 5K running plan with my wife but it hasn’t felt like much exercise yet. Maybe if we do it on treadmills we can set our own pace.

The days when Michele meets with her trainer are the worst. I barely want to get out of bed. Today, I did cardio while Michele met with her trainer. Facing the gym, knowing I wouldn’t be lifting felt like my spirit was being buried alive. I think it might have been the first time I went in since I talked to my doctor and I can’t believe how hard it has been.

Anger and frustration do make good fuel for working out though. I managed an average heart rate of 159 for an hour. My peak heart rate was 184. I spent 20 minutes doing speed intervals on a step mill and I was apparently working hard enough to impress one of the trainers. I spent another 20 minutes on the treadmill trying some silly program (forest walk I think) but at the end I cranked the speed up until I spent the last 3-4 minutes running at 6mph. Despite that being when I hit my peak heart rate, I could have kept going. I only stopped because Michele was done.

At the tail end of my workout, I found a theme song for my last couple of weeks. It got through to me strongly enough that I listened to it twice. Stabbing Westward, Crushing Me. “I’m feeling the weight of the world and it’s crushing me. I’m feeling the weight of everyday life and it’s crushing me. How much more will it take? How much more until it breaks me?” Today would be a great day to take up a fighting sport, well, great for me, not so much for my partner.

No comments: