Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 1

It's been a year since my hand injury. And unfortunately I'm plagued with yet another medical condition. But before I get into my current health situation, I want to put into writing some of my experiences with my hand injury last year.

The clinical term for my hand injury is "Radial Nerve Palsy" or "Wrist Drop". It's apparently also amusingly called "Saturday Night Palsy" and "Lover's Palsy". The former being the most apt description of what happened that resulted in my hand injury. Below is a link to the condition's definition in Wikipedia.


I came home after a night of heavy drinking and debauchery with some friends on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. I got home real late. The sun was probably going to appear in about an hour from then. When I woke up it was Sunday afternoon.

My right hand was rather numb and I couldn't move it, let alone use it. I was still largely hungover. So I figured I must've slept on my right hand and constricted blood flow. So I went back to sleep for a few more hours thinking that once the blood flow resumed that my hand would be fine. When I woke up from my nap, I still couldn't move my right hand. I started to worry. I took a shower and got dressed. I then headed to the emergency room of Makati Med. The medical personnel the left me waiting for about an hour or so. When they finally got around to me, they brought me to a section of the ER and made me wait even longer. I have never been all that impressed with Makati Med. But it was the closest hospital from my place. So I didn't really HV a choice. After being examined by several personnel and had x-rays taken of my right hand and arm, the 3-4 hour hospital experience resulted in identifying what was wrong with me. Radial Nerve Palsy.

How it actually happened was a bit hazy to me. But over the days and weeks, I realized that I was on my PC when I got home drunk. I stayed there for quite a while and fell asleep on my PC chair with my right arm slung over the back rest of the chair. Since I was heavily intoxicated, I didn't feel the strain it was putting on my arm for hours. This therefore caused the nerves on the upper section of my right arm to be compressed. This essentially cut most, if not all motor control of my right hand and wrist.

This began what was to be a 4-5 month ordeal of essentially having a gimp right hand. I consulted a number of doctors only to be referred to another doctor (Makati Med at its finest). I took numerous tests involving electrocuting my arm and neck, shoving me inside a MRI machine while injecting painful dye into my blood stream, etc. Eventually a Neurologist recommended that I undergo occupational therapy. For the purposes of this post, I'll just refer to it as physical therapy or PT since they're quite similar. This was the breakthrough recommendation towards my recovery. But sadly, this only came about after over a month of getting bounced around between doctors in Makati Med and given what was really only vitamin B complex as prescription medicine.

I had physical therapy 3 times a week for 3-4 months. I hated the annoyingly tedious way to file for HMO claims. My company's HMO was a new player in the HMO industry. I figured they would give me a hard time with my medical claims. And in the end, I still have to pay for a good portion of it myself. So I decided to suck it up and pay for all my medical expense myself. I consider myself fortunate to be able to earn money that can pay for all my medical costs. I don't think many can afford to spend as much money as I did for my hand injury recovery.

I will insert a little music related trivia about Radial Nerve Palsy. Dave Mustaine of a metal band called Megadeth apparently came down with Radial Nerve Palsy over a year prior to my injury. What from what I read, he passed out drunk on a bench with his arm slung over the back rest. So he sustained his hand injury in a similar fashion as I did. He was told by doctors that he may never fully recover. But being a high profile musician, he refused to accept it. Over the course of 4 months, he consulted several doctors from different fields.  He underwent many treatments simultaneously, from physical therapy to acupuncture. I was encouraged with my situation when I read about Dave Mustaine's experience. But at the same time, Dave Mustaine is a rich man. I couldn't pour nowhere near as much time and money as he did into his recovery. Okay, going back to my own situation.

Physical therapy felt demeaning at first. The therapy sessions consisted largely of doing these simple motor control games with blocks, pins, etc. I felt like a pre-schooler doing them. But I knew it was necessary if I ever hope to recover motor control of my right hand. One of the few non-childlike activities was to electrocute my hand to force hand muscles to move. Most, if not all, of the other patients there were all elderly. The other patients found me amusing because I was much younger than them. They were all wondering why I was there. I was a bit embarrassed to admit that my injury was a result of heavy drinking, especially when the other patients were there due to car accidents or strokes. They seemed to grow quite fond of me and found it amusing to tease me with one of the female therapists that was attending to my case.

I showed virtually no recovery progress for a month. Even the therapists working on my case were worried that I wasn't even showing signs of slight recovery. Back then, I knew that this would be a long and arduous recovery process. And a part of me was already thinking that I may never recovery at all.

I started to feel hopeful when the therapist was telling me to stop wearing my wrist brace.  This was on the 4th month of my injury. I felt uneasy at first when I remove my wrist brace. I wore that wrist brace all the time, even when I'm sleeping. I suppose I got so reliant on the wrist brace to support my hand. I eventually was able to play bongos and congas. Albeit, my right hand would feel fatigue very easily.

I eventually did recover from my hand injury. Again, it was a 4-5 month arduous process. Admittedly my right hand's motor control isn't quite the same compared to how it was prior to the injury. But I'm just glad to be able to use my right hand again.

So that was my long and overly verbose post about the medical side of my Radial Nerve Palsy experience. What I wanted to blog about is what was happening to me during those 4-5 months aside from the medical aspects. And how I managed to cope with my temporary disability. That will be on my next posts.


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