Courtesy of Wikipedia
I was one of the fortunate ones not to have a lick of morning sickness during my pregnancy. I never had a single day of nausea and for the most part, my first two trimesters were a breeze. Then the third trimester hit and I got sick with a terrible sinus infection for the first time. A few days afterward, I started having a lot of trouble with my left eye. It was dry and itchy and I couldn’t stop rubbing it. Then my face started to look a little weird on that side. I decided one night to go to the ER because something just wasn’t right. The diagnosis…Bell’s palsy. I was one of the few women who developed this in the third trimester of pregnancy. Some women even develop it right after giving birth. It was brutal. My eye was paralyzed so it stayed wide open and I had to tape it down at night. I was a good sport and wore a pirate patch while watching TV much to the amusement of my husband. No matter what kind of tape I used or the kind of lubricant I used under it, I always had a cut the next morning after peeling the tape off. Needless to say, I looked a little rough around the edges at times. Gone was that beautiful pregnancy glow and in was a face only my adoring and loyal husband could continue to love. I could not wear my contact lenses so I wore my glasses. When I was driving in the morning to work with the bright winter sun, I quickly discovered a whole new kind of pain because I could not wear sunglasses and was not able to blink to lubricate my eyes. My mouth was paralyzed on one side and I had to talk and eat out of the other side. Here I was, a few joyous weeks away from giving birth and I was a mess. I was put on Prednisone and told it would last 6-8 weeks. Six to eight weeks? That's how long I had until my baby was due. As if I already would not look horrible in pictures from giving birth, now I had to add a paralyzed face to it all. Lucky for me, it only lasted about 3 ½ weeks and I was good as new. http://millercenter.uchicago.edu/learnaboutpn/typesofpn/other/bellspalsy.shtml
I was repaid handsomely for my pain, suffering, and disfiguration because I had the easiest and fastest labor and delivery imaginable. I recently found out, however, that I was not about to get off that easy. When my daughter turned about 5 months old, I started to have some pain in my left wrist. As the week went on, the pain increased to the point that picking up my daughter became unbearable. I have to type a lot for my job and doing so was too painful so it was easier to stay off the keyboard. The pain ran down my thumb to my inner wrist and then to the top of my lower arm. When I could not stand it anymore, I made an appointment at an orthopedic office, my home away from home. In the meantime, I Googled my symptoms and found out about a condition called DeQuervain’s Tendonitis. It is basically the inflammation of the tunnel that surrounds the two tendons that control the thumb. It is apparently very common among new mothers which is why it is often referred to as “mother’s wrist.”
At my visit, the doctor took an x-ray of my wrist to rule out any other condition. When she determined that it was, in fact, DeQuervain’s, she told me the options. One was rest would have been impossible since I had an infant to take care of. My husband was going to be out of town for work here and there so I would not even be able to count on him to help out. The second was a cortisone shot which was not a good option because there are so few you can get in a lifetime. The third, which was what I ended up being prescribed, was forced rest. I was put in a hard cast from thumb to elbow and given a prescription anti inflammatory. It was terrible. I could barely lift my daughter with the awkward cast and when I did, I always managed to hurt her in the process. I had a hard time giving her a bath because I couldn’t get the cast wet and on top of it all, it was hot and itchy. I could not wait to get the cast off and once I did, I was fitted for a soft cast and started physical therapy. While wearing the hard cast and always being asked what happened to my arm, I was amazed at how many mothers I met who had once been just as unlucky.
The bottom line is…get your thumb and wrist checked out if you are a new mom and feeling pain. The longer you wait, the more damage you will do to your tendons which could result in surgery. To find out more about DeQuervain’s Tendonitis, check out http://www.harvardhealthcontent.com/health-commentaries/hand-pain.php
I often debate over what I would prefer to have: morning sickness and a crummy labor or Bell’s palsy and DeQuervain’s Tendonitis. At this point, I could not really say since I haven’t experienced 2 out of the 4 but after experiencing two of the strangest things ever, I'm pretty sure I might pick the first two.