Last Friday, at some point after I had dressed and started walking to work, my right hand went strange. I had no strength, and I could not bend my fingers and hit the keys on a keyboard, or manage mouse buttons. I couldn’t double-click, and my attempts to single click turned into spastic clenches of all the buttons. The diagnosis seems to be carpal tunnel syndrome, and it has improved.
When the condition persisted overnight, I went to a walk-in clinic. The doctor there mentioned the possibility of a stroke, which meant a trip to emergency at Royal Jubilee to be assessed by the stroke team. On a sunny Saturday (I saw two or three soccer injuries and one woman who had a rip at the knee of her cycling tights come in), that meant about a 7 hour stay, most of it in the emergency waiting room. I emerged with a referral to a neurologist and a suggestion that I had ulnar nerve trouble rather than carpal tunnel syndrome, which involves the median nerve.
Things moved more quickly after that. The neurologist saw me on Tuesday and was quite positive that the deficits related to the median nerve. I had nerve conduction tests on Wednesday.
I managed my work reasonably well. I shifted to a couple of projects with paper files for review, without extensive keyboard work. I switched to a trackball mouse for a few days The Public Service OT suggested a vertical mouse. I tried it and couldn’t manage it. I plugged it into the USB port without drivers, so I wasn’t able to set the button functions, and I didn’t like the right click settings. As I was getting reasonable results with a trackball mouse, and my hand was getting better, I thought I would pass on that.
Cycling, twisting an offset kayak paddle, and computer ergonomics are the most obvious causes for this, and I will have to change some of my habits. I have worked with some exercises and started to use a wrist rest for the keyboard and a gel rest mouse pad.
I was concerned about working the brakes on my bike but it worked fine. I went for a 70 k ride to Sydney yesterday – taking advantage of a warm (20 degrees) sunny day. I used a wrist brace for part of the rides but it was a nuisance, and I took it off after about 25 k. I was more careful to curve my back and get my weight on the saddle. I have looked at those core exercises in the second last issue of Bicycling magazine.