This has been going on for over a month now so I might as well write something about it.
In June, shortly after finishing my four page story for the first issue of CARTOZIA (please take a look at this series, it’s a wonderful concept and I was very pleased to take part) and midway through the pencils for my contribution to another great anthology, my right hand went numb and cold one afternoon at my day job. And my right ring finger went all dark and bruise-like at the first joint. The latter symptom freaked me out so I went to a walk-in place where I was assured it was not a vascular event or blood clot, but some manner of repetitive stress injury.
My right hand is my mouse hand, so the next day at work I stopped mousing with it. But even just including my right in typing brought on the numbness, cold, tingling and now pain, all along the outside of my forearm to the outer half of my hand. I took up left handed typing effective immediately (a large portion of my job consists of emails and long text/image specification documents; this cut my work speed by a good 75%).
Drawing, too painful, guitar playing, no way, writing anything by hand, sheer masochism. Putting food in my mouth, brushing my teeth– new skills to learn pour la main gauche.
My online self-diagnosis was Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. When I finally got in to see a specialist, she confirmed it. This is the 2nd most common repetitive stress injury after Carpal Tunnel; in this case the injured nerve is not at the wrist but the elbow. The ulnar nerve becomes compressed and inflamed, affecting everything downstream.
I have a kind of soft splint I’m wearing while sleeping and at various times during the day which prevents my arm from bending to any degree sharper than 45. Sleep time is the most critical, since like many people I instinctively fold my arms against my chest in bed and that’s the position that aggravates this injury.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs are routinely prescribed for this injury. In my case, that option is out due to my Crohn’s disease (the only pain medication Crohn’s sufferers can use is Tylenol/acetaminophen). Thanks, gut: I already knew you hated me.
After I’ve worn this thing for a month the specialist will assess my progress. After 12 days, it doesn’t feel like I’m improving. I hope this trend changes since the alternative is elbow surgery.
But there IS some good news. The artwork needed for the next True Swamp hardcover has not been in my possession since the material was first published in 2000 and 2001. I have long suspected it to be in my friend and former publisher Jeff’s storage space in Gainesville; I was looking forward to a short trip down there this summer but this arm business plus the ongoing financial straits which have so characterized this shitty, shitty year of 2013 put the nix to that plan. Tom Hart stepped in, deputizing two of his SAW helpers to go in there and search. They found the art within two hours! (Sally and Anna, you fucking rock!) And then a third wonderful SAW elf, Sia, set about scanning the whole stack for me! So things look good for TS Vol. 2.
Also, penury be damned, I WILL be at Autoptic in Minneapolis next month. I’m on a panel about the deployment of wildlife in fiction which I’m really anticipating. I feel really lame (heh) about missing CAKE and TCAF earlier in the year but one’s forties are just so chock full of delightful derailments aren’t they? (And with that: next Wednesday I turn 43…)
That’s enough from me. One handed typing sucks royal. I’ll close by saying I refuse to accept the death of Kim Thompson; I reject it outright and I want it repealed. Fuck these bodies and their tyranny.