What Was I Thinking??
Last updated: December 2020
"What was I thinking?"
How many times do we say this to ourselves? Never about the same things though. With rheumatoid arthritis and its companions, it is never the same thing twice. What worked yesterday should work today, right? Maybe, maybe not. That is the difficulty. I recently trimmed a large bush and paid for it the next two days.
Three surgeries in six weeks
The current events that prompted this are three surgeries in six weeks. Yes, you read that correctly! These are not huge surgeries like my knee replacements, but any surgery with rheumatoid arthritis takes planning and resultant exhaustion.
Two cataract surgeries and one for carpal tunnel syndrome
I saw the ophthalmologist for my cataracts. Surgeries on my eyes were scheduled two weeks apart because of the extreme amount of nearsightedness and astigmatism - August 10th and August 24th, 2020. The first surgery also included the placement of a glaucoma stent, so my rheumatologist had me stop my RA medications a week before surgery.
During the week before the first surgery, I also had an electromyogram (EMG) on my right wrist and forearm. My hand surgeon sent me for this test due to carpal tunnel symptoms and forearm numbness. Since he had never had a revision in twenty years of practice, he thought my symptoms were not carpal tunnel. (My first carpal tunnel surgery was in 2014.)
Drum roll, please! The EMG showed severe carpal tunnel and significant ulnar nerve impingement. Not a surprise to any of us with RA, but my hand surgeon was quite surprised and disappointed. The surgery was scheduled for September 23rd, 2020. We blamed the rheumatoid arthritis, although I believe it is just me. Read on and you will understand why I say this.
How my surgeries went
The cataract part of my first eye surgery went well. When the doctor placed my glaucoma stent, the device that inserts the stent would not release! He had to pull the stent out and then replace it with another one. The replacement stent floated right back out. When I had my follow-up visit, the doctor told me that had never happened, and he spoke with the company owner. I told him not to worry, it was just me.
The second eye surgery went well also. My vision is now 20/20. Considering it was 20/2000 prior to surgery, I consider it a miracle. My night vision is improved as is my depth perception.
I had to stop my rheumatoid arthritis medication seven days prior to the carpal tunnel/ulnar nerve surgery and cannot resume until the incisions are healed.
As I write this, today is September 29, 2020. I am six days post-op from my carpal tunnel/ulnar nerve repair. (The ulnar nerve is the one you hit when you hit your “funny bone”.) I spent the first three days with my arm elevated and iced, two days on pain medication, and now on arthritis-strength acetaminophen.
Exhausted from multiple surgeries
Now the “what was I thinking” has hit. I am exhausted. I was able to work from home for six hours yesterday. Today, maybe eight? I know what to expect after surgery, and I should not be surprised. But, it still hits me every time.
The difficulty is the not knowing. Not knowing what will trigger our symptoms makes it hard to plan. I try to be proactive and pace myself. However, I also give myself a pass when I choose unwisely. I do not need to make myself feel even worse.
Give yourself a pass when you have your “what was I thinking” moments. You deserve it.
Did you know rheumatologist Dr. Donica Baker is answering community questions?
Join the conversation