MRI Backstory

The reason for the MRI is that for about three years I’ve had some problems with my left hand. I thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome, which would make sense with all the keyboarding I do as a software engineer. It was really bad three years ago, and my primary care physician sent me for physical therapy at that point. I had some exercises to do to strengthen my shoulder, and it got somewhat better.

It was worse again at the end of last year. I would wake up at three or four in the morning with my arm tingling. It would stop if I leaned my head down to my right shoulder for a minute, but start again unless I turned my head just right until I fell back to sleep. Turning on my right side for five or ten minutes was OK, but longer than that would make it start tingling again. Lying on my left side was out of the question.

I started doing the exercises that I remembered from last time, and at my regular physical exam in January I asked my primary care doctor about it. He said it did sound like carpal tunnel syndrome, but that didn’t explain the arm problems. He sent me to a hand specialist, who had an X-ray taken of my neck (which, come to think of it, they had done three years ago too), sent me for an EMG (electromyogram or something like that), sent me back for physical therapy, and sent me to a spine specialist, who thinks the whole problem is in my neck. The spine specialist sent me for the MRI.

The hand doctor asked me if I was dropping things. I had dropped my keys a couple of times, but besides tingling in my hand the problems I was aware of were lack of feeling in my fingers and difficulty taking my wallet out of my pocket.  More precisely than lack of feeling, the tingling was overwhelming the feeling of what I was trying to feel. That was most obvious when I was buttoning a shirt. I couldn’t feel where the buttonholes were. With the clarinet, I couldn’t feel where the holes were that I was trying to cover with my fingertips.

With the exercises I’ve been doing it’s a lot better. In another week I’ll go back to the spine doctor and find out what the MRI showed.

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