Thursday, July 23, 2009

It Rhymes With "Encephalopathy," Which I'll Have Any Day Now

So the orthopedist thinks what is inhibiting my future Hall Of Fame drumming career is something called ulnar neuropathy. The way he explained it, sometimes the ulnar nerve isn't quite long enough, particularly in longer-armed people (I'm only 6'1", but my wingspan is 6' 4").

When your ulnar nerve is slightly short, it can get compressed when the elbow bends, and his theory is that adding 1+ hours a day of drumming (plus, at that time, about 9,000 yards a week swimming and regular keyboard time as well) created an overload. And the way that I described the pain corresponds to the kind of pain that normally accompanies this condition.

I didn't explain that very well, but the short version is that if I bend my arms less, I might improve significantly, and one of the things that people do when they have this is (believe it or not) wrap towels loosely around their elbows at night so that they can't bend their elbows very far. Apparently, sleep studies have demonstrated that most people sleep with their hands up on their chests (after they go to sleep), so that's eight hours of bent elbow.

Or six, or seven interrupted with waking up several times from Eli 7.11 needing to pee or Gloria snoring (in a beautiful way, of course) or the cats or...

Of course, I'm only trying this with the left arm, because I want to be able to compare and see if it's working. But at least this gives me something to try. And I'm keeping my left arm straight as often as possible during the day as well.

If nothing else works, surgery is an eventual possibility, but I'm going to do everything I can to avoid that.

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