Obsession Thursday: It hurts.

In the late ’90s, I was an obsessed quilter and new computer user. Hand quilting + mousing gave me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome back then, and I’ve been fighting it ever since. For the record, that’s at least 16 years.

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A Somerset Star that fills a 12″ diameter embroidery hoop. Made with fabric, glue stick, hot iron, and just a few perfectly placed stitches.

I’ve worn some sort of splint (aka brace) at night all that time. I’ve done acupuncture, osteopathy and the only thing that sort of worked: Active Release Technique (ART) therapy. The condition got so bad, there was a period where it woke me up at night with screaming, searing pain. The cortisone shot made no difference. ART has kept me from being in agony, but it couldn’t solve a too-small opening for a too-large nerve in my wrists.

During that time, I stopped quilting (mostly because I became 100% re-consumed with knitting and then started Knitty. Both hands, though, continued to get worse.

Earlier this year, my Pilates teacher yelled at me (She’s an RN): “When are you going to get those things fixed?!” And it finally seemed like avoiding surgery was no longer a wise thing to do. Beyond the fact that knitting more than a few rows at a time is all I can do, CTS means that almost everything I do is affected in some way. Surgery* is scheduled for mid-March, and according to the doc, I’ll be back at the keyboard within just a few days, fully healed in 6-8 weeks. I am actually EXCITED about this. *Nothing bloody at that link. Just info on the type of surgery I’m getting, in case you’re curious.

The Somerset Star now lives above my bed, along with a collection of hoops (scavenged at the annual Textile Museum's sale over the past few years) filled with some of my favorite fabrics.
The Somerset Star now lives above my bed, along with a collection of hoops (scavenged at the annual Textile Museum’s sale over the past few years) filled with some of my favorite fabrics.

In the meantime, quilting is providing a creative outlet that I desperately need. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of the stuff I’ve been doing. I took a class to learn how to make a Somerset Star at The Workroom, and went a little bonkers with it (see above).

I find it amusing that the craft (though not the same hand movements) that started the injury is what I’m doing until I can get it all fixed.

I still don’t hand quilt. Maybe I’ll be able to after healing from the surgery, but mostly, I just want to be able to knit, wash dishes (!), drive my Vespa, and play my ukulele again without hurting.

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7 thoughts on “Obsession Thursday: It hurts.

  1. Sarah

    I super sympathize, although I can’t imagine 16 years. I’ve been struggling with keyboard + crafting related chronic tendonitis in my arms for 2.5 years, and also can’t knit more than a row or two once a week without a lot of pain. I am so excited for you – I hope the surgery goes smoothly, that recovery is quick and easy, and that you’re restored to being able to do the things you love free from pain 🙂 🙂 )

  2. Kay

    I had Arthroscopic CTS done in 1995 and 98 and it went great. I had minimal pain after surgery and actually followed doctor’s orders for once. I can not imagine going for 16 years with the nerve pain! I will be thinking about you Amy! Are you having them done at the same time?

  3. Loretta Vander Pol

    I am recovering from surgery yesterday. So far it’s not a big deal. I slept well last night and just slightly uncomfortable today. Best wishes for you!

  4. Melissa

    I too had surgery on my wrists and I got to add it the elbows too. It was one of the best choices I ever made in terms of my health. It took time to recover, but it was worth it. Good Luck. and Don’t forget to do your PT.

  5. BCE

    I had carpal tunnel surgery in December of 2015. I couldn’t knit without it hurting. So far so good and I am listening to my surgeon and won’t do yoga or rowing until March. I am knitting and without pain or numbness which is lovely! Good Luck!

  6. Becky

    Carpal tunnel is no fun at all. I developed it in college as a result of too many long practice sessions (I was a music major, and would sometimes practice up to 5 hours a day), plus the usual paper writing and schoolwork. Thankfully, I’ve mostly been able to manage it without surgery, though I usually get a couple of bad flares a year. But I’m really slow at knitting and any hand sewing, because I have to take frequent breaks. I hope this works for you#

  7. kayT

    I had surgery several years ago as an outpatient, and on the way home from the hospital I said to my husband “the pain is gone.” I had not had a moment of no pain for weeks if not months and it was gone instantly and has never come back. So glad you decided to do it and wish you had not waited so long!

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