Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Apologies to all my loyal readers for the lack of posts - I haven't really wanted to type much in the evenings. Since I arrived here, I have had a tingling sensation in my right hand - specifically my index and middle fingers. They have also been numb at the same time - a bit like pins and needles. I do have a habit of sleeping on my hand and waking up with a dead arm, so I assumed it was that and would go away. Well it didn't - in fact it spread up my arm - only intermittently. I found that driving and typing made it worse.........

So yesterday I finally booked myself a sports massage here in Pyrmont. The guy was very good and said he thought I had trapped the median nerve. He did give me a deep tissue massage on my shoulder, neck and arm and suggested that I see a doctor to find out what was causing it. So this morning, not really knowing much about the Oz health system I rang Health Direct. This is like NHS direct in the UK. You describe your symptoms and they tell you what to do. So I did. And they told me to go to the emergency department of my nearest hospital......within the next hour.

Bloody hell. A bit dramatic or what....the nurse on the phone said that my symptoms could be caused by either something minor or serious so they wanted me checked out. Fortunately as a Brit, I am covered by a reciprocal health agreement between the UK and Australia (proof that "The Empire"really can strike back) so I didn't have to worry about the cost. I have insurance anyway but it's good to know that my tax dollars are following me here.

Our nearest hospital is the Royal Alfred in Camperdown, so off we went. We were met at the door of the emergency reception by a volunteer who told us what to do. Very helpful. I presented myself and my passport at reception and was given a form to fill in. I then had to sit on the red seats and wait to be seen by a triage nurse. I waited about 5 minutes whilst she dealt with the patient who had arrived just before me (this was at 8.30am so it was quiet there) . My turn came, and I had to explain my symptoms. Blood pressure and pulse checks established that I was not having a stroke (wrong arm anyway) and then she shone a light into my eyes. Not sure why. My eyes are a deep hazel and quite lovely. She then gave me a wristband to wear which meant I was now in "THE SYSTEM" and would soon be seen by a doctor.

We now went and sat in blue seats (seating colour in hospitals is a whole new experience - Newbury hospital has the same system, and woe betide anyone who sits in the wrong colour seat). Gus went to get a coffee. Whilst he was gone, another young nurse (sadly female) came and shone her torch in my eyes. Word had clearly gone round.

So we sat on our coloured seats and waited. And waited. People came. Very few went. Once you have been through triage, you are seen in order of emergency, so it was a relief that I wasn't rushed through. After about 2 hours, we were called to see a doctor. A series of tests later, she states that she wants to talk to her boss. We go and sit in the blue seats again. And wait. They both turn up after about 10 minutes, and he redoes the tests she had done. And then, he does some new ones.......

Lo and behold - a diagnosis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tyler the sports masseur was right - I have trapped the median nerve, but in my wrist, not my neck. The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel right where you would take your pulse. It's a common enough condition, often brought on by sport.

Stop laughing.

So I now have a wrist splint.

A black one.

It looks like I am in mourning for Michael Jackson.


  1. I wear wrist splints every so often when my CT acts up. I was surprised at how much of a difference they made - no more waking up with pins and needles. I hope they help you. BTW - nice to meet you guys last weekend!

  2. Oh man, I think I may have that too. Do you have one of those squishy wrist pads for when you type? and/or one for using with your mouse (it's attached to a mousepad)-- they really help.

  3. Teresi's - we enjoyed meeting you too. I am hoping this splint makes a real difference to my pins and needles...

    Florida Girl - no squishy mousepad. We are using the laptop as the PC is sailing the Pacific Ocean......

  4. You are on the expat blogroll on my blog now, because the whole followers thing isn't really sufficient. Cheers. Btw, I need to find Gus's mobile number, I want to make a plan with him.

  5. Very well written.. a good laugh on a Friday morning