Getting Old Ain’t For The Faint Hearted

It is entirely appropriate that I find myself owning the company that manufactures the Carton Caddy®, 1/2 gallon (2 litre), milk carton holder.

Ar various times in my life I’ve had aches and pains, but when you are younger it seems there is only one ache, or one pain, perhaps even a broken bone, at a time and the recovery was always short enough that I could just ignore it and it would go away. Well, for the most part anyway, except perhaps for the time I tore my right rotator cuff and thought I could continue playing rugby. That’s another whole storey entirely.

More recently, I woke up one morning with my right thumb locked in a hyperextended position, bent backwards, and in agony. This situation continued for about a week during which time I discovered that as long as I kept it bent a little towards my palm it was OK and not painful. Well, this worked OK for playing the piano but was hopeless for playing the guitar. Apart from that, on occassion, it would get bumped into the bent back position at which point it hurt like hell with a stabbing pain at the base of my thumb.

With a guitar performance scheduled I figured I better go and have it looked at by an orthopaedic surgeon. Hands take special care so we, my wife and I, looked for a specialist nearby and we found Dr. Wurth at the Bone and Joint Institute in Franklin, TN.

Well, I figured if I am going to see the ortho about my thumb, while I am there I may as well have him look at my left wrist too. You see, my left wrist had this ache which I’d been experiencing for quite a while although I couldn’t nail down exactly when it started.

I arrived at the Bone and Joint Insitute on time and their processing time was short and I did not have to wait an extended period of time to get into the consulting room, which is often the case with physicians. The nurse took my information and sent me off right away for an x-ray of my right thumb and left wrist.

Dr. Wurth arrived pretty sharply after I returned and scanned the x-rays. He made some notes and explained I had what is called “trigger thumb”. It clicks when bent forward and back because the tendon / ligament is swollen and not moving in the sheath. He would give me a steroid injection and it would take about 2 weeks to go away. The swelling and pain would subside first and the clicking would take about two weeks. Great !

Then he looked at my left wrist. To his surprise I have an extra piece of bone in my left wrist which he figured was from an old injury but probably not causing my pain so he sent me off for an MRI. Fortunately I was able to get it done immediately and was scheduled for a followup a week later.

Returning a week later Dr. Wurth explained that I have severe tendonitus in one tendon and “regular” tendonitus in another. The first treatment plan was another injection but, if there was any hope of that working, I had to wear a wrist splint for 3 weeks.

I am now in my second week for my left wrist and third week for my right thumb. My right thumb is almost back to normal and my left wrist is already feeling much improved. This is particularly encouraging as, apart from cutting my piano practice time in half, to 1.5 hours instead of 3, because I can’t practice with the wrist splint on, I carry on as normal. Normal, when you own a small farm and are starting an orchard, is quite physical.

So the take aways are these:

  • if you have issues with your hands and wrists, the Carton Caddy is a real benefit when trying to lift half gallon milk cartons
  • if you have injuries get them seen to as soon as possible (I might not have severe tendonitus if I’d had it looked at sooner)
  • the Bone and Joint Institute is a great medical provider and Dr. Wurth knows his stuff !

Oh, and getting old ain’t for the faint hearted !