electromyography and me

So for the last little while or so (okay, seven or eight years, not counting my mission), I've experienced some discomfort in my wrists related to computer use. As some of you may know, I do occasionally dabble in that sort of thing, being a software developer and all. Well, I'm pretty good at keeping it under control by wearing wrist braces when I'm at work or on the computer at home. I've tried some other things, too: vitamins, stretches, gypsy tears, you name it.

Well, over the last few months it's been getting a little bit worse. In my mind, I picture my carpal tunnel tightening and tightening, further restricting my already damaged nerves. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning, tightness, and total-body paralysis (okay, fine, not so much that last one). So, I decided to bite the bullet and get an electromyogram, and, depending on the results, look into surgery.

So I went in for my appointment the other day, and after 45 minutes or so of waiting room excitement, the doctor saw me. The test is of two parts: one part electrical shock, and one part needle. First he zapped me up and down my arms with a little medical-looking "thingie" (it may have just been a cord ripped out of a lamp, Jack Bauer style), measuring the conductivity with electrodes. Then, he tests nerve conductivity by inserting a needle into my the muscles of my arms and hands, wiggling them around and having me flex against the needle. It was pretty awesome. I've got a pretty cool bruise on my bicep, which is sort of rare for me (since I don't bruise easily, and I don't really have "biceps," per se).

Finally, the test was over. "Give me the news, doc," I said. "Lay it on me. Surgery? Amputation? How long have I got?"

Turns out I don't have anything. Well, not carpal tunnel syndrome, anyway. He says my nerves are completely healthy, which means my carpals are as tunneled as ever.

So, I'm not really sure where we go from here. I guess I'll keep wearing the braces. Maybe I'll try the vitamins again, or some glucosamine. And where's a gypsy when you need one...