Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome


Photo by Juliette Leufke on Unsplash

I have this anxiety in me, I don’t know, something is going on. I went to my regular doctor today because I have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. My hands hurt and get numb from using the keyboard too much.  An extern saw me first. He is wearing dark blue scrubs. What is the difference between an intern and an extern? He was a little aloof at first, but when we started chatting and he asked me what I did for a living he perked up. I teach English, I told him, and write. He seemed pleased, I have no idea why. He’s trying to be a doctor and I’m trying to make this numbness and pain in my hands go away.

We seemed to have somewhat bonded over my career and the fact that he could not get the blood pressure machine to work. I’m nervous, I think my blood may be all out of whack. I think it’s dancing a dance I don’t like. I never liked doing group dances, I could never follow the steps, I found it tedious that everyone wasn’t doing their own thing. My cells are dancing together, they are not coordinated I think. That is what is happening. Dischord.

Now I’m sitting here in front of an extern, we’ll call him Tom. Tom is very thin, he has a pretty face, but too thin for my taste. I want to say something to this man, kind of boy, he looks like he’s in his early twenties. I want to tell him that I came in for my hands, but really it’s the rest of me that’s hurting. I’m nervous, I have some kind of generalized anxiety. I’m not having a panic attack, I know those when I have them.

My hands are shaking slightly. I want to shake this man who is staring at me, not noticing the fact that I am ever so slightly shaking. I want to shake him. Do your job, I want to say. Diagnose me. Tell me everything is going to be alright. I realize he’s not my boyfriend and it’s not exactly his job to make me feel better. I think maybe it is the poetry that is making me sick. Writing poetry is very emotional, it takes so much out of you. Then people interpret it and assume things about you. They read your poetry and tell you what it is about because you barely understand it yourself.

I barely understand my own words, much less my own poetry. I want to ask this man who has forgotten to listen to my heart if poetry is bad for my heart. If I asked him that question, he would report it to his colleagues and ask them, in earnest, what I meant. Is there a cure for poetry I want to ask him.  Is there a cure for this pain in my chest?

But I came here because my hands are numb. So is my heart. Sometimes I feel everything and then nothing at all. The extern walks out of the room and tells me he will be back with a new blood pressure device. He never does take my blood pressure or listen to my heart. He knows, doesn’t he, he knows my heart breaks too easily, is too fragile, is too easy to tease. That my blood is too thin for a human.

I am led ten minutes later into the office of the actual doctor I came to see. The doctor doesn’t look up from his computer screen, with his back facing me, he shakes my hand. He stares at the screen typing something as I talk about my right hand. I look at his fingers typing away. I want to tell him he is likely to get Carpal Tunnel if he continues to type away at that speed on a daily basis. He doesn’t seem interested by my diagnoses though.

Hello? I want to say. Talk to me, will you? What ever happened to conversations between doctors and patients? Maybe I have this hand disorder because I am on the computer too much, writing the poetry that is messing with my blood flow to my head and my heart. Maybe I should stop writing, period. Beethoven went deaf, my hands went numb. End of story.

Is there a cure for Carpel Tunnel I want to scream! But I don’t scream, I dare not scream in front of a doctor. I know from my history that if you scream they send you to another type of doctor. I want to tell them that the words I write, don’t make any sense to me, but somehow I manage to hurt other people with these words. I play with words and end up playing with people’s hearts.

Don’t befriend a poet. Or any writer for that matter. You are most likely going to become their subject matter. I am scared, scared of the power my words have over people. I want to sit in this man’s lap, this doctor, and suck my thumb and cry. I want him to give me a green lollipop. Oh, why don’t they give adults lollipops? Where did all the candy go? He gives me a prescription for a stint and some pain killers.

I go back to the lobby, there are other people there. People with real ailments, sicknesses, no one looks particularly joyful. What if I were to just start dancing I think? What if I danced my way out of the building to my car. Then they would notice me. But no one would give me an award, I am no ballerina. I stand at the desk of the receptionist. She has straight brown hair and braces. I had braces as a kid for five years I want to tell her. No one could see them, you can’t really see my teeth when I talk.

She seems nice, she is not too busy to tell me that I can make an appointment now, or call them later. But she has no lollipop for me. I want to say thank you to her. Thank you for not knowing me. I can write about you safely. I can say you seem like a nice girl. She types something into her computer.


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