September 8, 2011

night terrors

Its 3 am and I have just woken in fright from the all too familiar feeling - or the familiar absence of feeling - in my right arm. 

Since my surgery in February, the numbness that was once isolated to the fingers on my right hand has spread terrifyingly up through my wrist and along the length of my arm and into the tip of my armpit and out across my shoulder. (Though technically, it has occurred in reverse because the original source of the problem resides in my neck).

 It doesn't seem to matter if I have been asleep for five minutes or five hours, or which position I have been lying in.  

Just now for example I was lying on my back with my arms placed neatly by my sides. Either way, the affected gasp of me waking yet again in a ball of terror 3 or 4 times a night because I cannot locate my arm, is becoming an all too familiar experience. 

What is even more terrifying is that the problems in my right arm are no longer just restricted to waking. 

My arm feels continually tingly, kind of like it does in those moments before you get pins and needles, like when the lively triage nurse or your best mate straps the tourniquet that little bit too tight. 

All throughout the day, I catch myself trying to shake it awake particularly when it has nodded off again at some really inconvenient moment, like when I am writing or trying to drive a car or open a jar of coffee and nobody else is around. 

What's worse is that I have recently started dropping things. Yesterday morning I dropped my glass of water (still half full) on the carpet, followed by the coffee pot and then my mac book computer (also on the carpet thank goodness). 

I cannot even begin to express the strange and unnerving (pun intended) experience of suddenly having little to no control over part of my own body.  

I wouldn't be lying if I said that it feels like someone has sawn off my good arm and replaced it with a beige coloured stocking filled with pillow stuffing from Spotlight. 

As a right handed person, it certainly makes the art of typing a more difficult experience and I really have to concentrate to get letters on the page. Now there are a hundred typo's when before there was maybe one or two.  

I have tried the usual tactic of pretending it is just not happening by telling as few people as possible and deflecting the issue entirely when mum brings it up in conversation on the phone. 'How's you arm love? Arm? What arm? Oh that arm! Yeah its fine.' 

The truth is I am struggling now to pretend it away mainly because I have to concentrate really hard most of the day to tell my right hand what I want to do. It's like it has forgotten how to do things of its own accord, like it has never done anything without being consciously asked before. 

I imagine that this must be what it feels like to have a stroke - my arm just kind of hanging down by my side as though it has forgotten its actual purpose. 

Even trying to squeeze my hand together is a strange and unpleasant experience as I have lost about 60-70% of my strength in my arm and I could not strangle the life of a small listless kitten even if it was the runt of the litter. 

It's not a joke, but I paint it as one because i have no other reference for coping. 

To think about what may happen isn't even a possibility. I am a writer for fucks sake. I am a mum. People are counting on me. I am right handed. All I know is that lately I wake up so scared that I don't know whether to call my mum or the ambulance. Or both. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That must be terrifying. Hang in there and it will get better I am sure.