Heater, Mother of Lance

Matters of the hand

So here is what I’ve got so far:

“Yeah, this. You see, there was this bear, this huge bear…” And then I pause, shake my head and hope that whoever has just asked me about my hand gets the idea. I’m wearing a cast because I took out a bear. And that bear’s family took one look at him and was all WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU.

A bear would work. There are bears in Utah. Or maybe I just say that I got into a brawl with my sister wife.

I’m practicing this here because every time I tell the truth someone says, “You have GOT to come up with a better story.” Like, do not admit to that, Heather. Apparently, admitting that I have immobilized my entire right arm due to texting is worthy of ridicule. Like, I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life, but a texting injury? I might as well tell people that I went up for a high five, missed and smacked that person in the face.


But it’s the truth. One Saturday afternoon in early August I texted so much and so furiously that I woke up the next morning with a shooting pain in my right thumb. I could barely move it and began texting with my index and middle fingers. That compensation eventually stretched the pain out over my entire hand, around my wrist and up into my elbow. When that pain reached my shoulder I finally called the doctor. Her nurse asked why I needed to see her.

“I texted too hard.”

Yeah. She laughed at me. Which means you are in good company.

By the time I got in to see my doctor I had enough sense to start calling it “a repetitive stress injury” which sounds a lot better than I WAS YELLING THROUGH MY FINGERS. She inspected the swelling around my thumb and made a sound indicating that she was not going to take any chances with it, eventually referring me to a sports doctor in the same practice. Until I could get in to see him I was supposed to apply heat and give my entire right hand some rest. Um… let’s see… give my entire right hand some rest. You are indeed correct if you guessed that I made a joke about excessive masturbation right then and there.

Wait. I’ve got it now: “This? This is a sexting injury. Just a ton of strenuous, ruthless sexting.”

Within a few days I was sitting across from that sports doctor who explained in great detail that women seem to suffer these hand and wrist and finger issues much more frequently than men. What I’m experiencing isn’t carpel tunnel. It’s inflammation in the tendons and tissues surrounding a certain bone in my thumb that I have strained by vigorously getting my point across in capital letters. To remedy this he gave me a sturdy, velcro cast that restrains all movement in my thumb and prescribed a round of prednisone to help reduce the swelling.


A friend of mine very recently told me a horror story about her boyfriend and the rage he experienced while taking prednisone, and that was the only knowledge I had of this steroid going into this diagnosis. When I asked the doctor about potential side effects he said, “Eh… you might get a little agitated.”

“A little?” I asked

“Well,” he explained further. “You might want to warn everyone around you that you could get very angry for no reason whatsoever.”

I should have taken that explanation a little more seriously because by day three I was snapping plastic knives in half across my thighs for the sole purpose of giving my inner rage some sort of outlet. Air made me mad. Having to blink my eyes exasperated me so badly that I considered gouging them out with my bare hands. When I could not get the top off of a bottle of Gatorade, I walked out into the middle of the street and hurled the whole thing like a football at the horizon.

But then, there was also a shit ton of crying. Hours and hours of crying. Full-body crying that shook my torso and caused my eyes to swell shut. FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I tried to think of a reason because when someone would ask me why I’d been crying I’d get so mad that I’d snap a plastic knife in half across my thigh.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and called the doctor to tell him that we needed to take a different approach immediately. But not before I asked my followers on twitter and Facebook if they’d had any weird reactions to prednisone. DID THEY EVER.

Just a sampling from twitter:

And then from Facebook:

“Starving, irritable, insomniac.”

“Hulk mode.”

“Hangry superwoman.”

“Said to my mother while attending niece’s dance recital. “I can’t believe I thought I could get through this without a snack. I am 2 dance numbers away from eating my purse.”


“The lint on this floor is looking tasty and I am ashamed.”

“Nevermind me, I’ll just be over here cleaning the baseboards and eating a double bacon cheeseburger at 3 am. If you walk out of the bedroom and look at me funny, I’ll assume it’s because I look like the Stay-puft Marshmallow Man and either sob like my grandma died, or rip you to shreds with my teeth.”

“Can’t get off the couch, crying because the world is ending and I want to go with it.”

“I feel great but what to punch you in the face!”

“To all the food….. get in my belly!!! To all the people …..what are you looking at?”

“Don’t make me kill you. Now get me chocolate.”

“My friend slept in a tent in her back yard and wrote a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev.”

“Should I cry or stab the person in front of me with an umbrella and then scrapbook the experience until 3am?”

I’m sure there are just as many if not more people who have no adverse reaction whatsoever to prednisone, but these responses gave me the reason I needed to cry! I sobbed with relief! THANK YOU NOW EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO CHEW ON SOME BROKEN GLASS.

  • Judith Rosa

    2014/10/23 at 6:43 am

    Texting injury is less embarrassing than Farm Town injury. Just sayin’.

  • PolicyChick

    2014/10/23 at 7:05 am

    Holy Cow! How long do you have to be on it? Try to stay away from sharp objects….

  • tmb

    2014/10/23 at 7:22 am

    piano player here. Been there. Didn’t have to use the drugs, though. If you just lay off using those tendons for a while the swelling will go down on its own. I used ibuprofen. Maybe yours is worse than mine, though.

    But seriously, when you’re at your home computer, if you have a mouse, use it with your left hand. Yes it will feel weird, but it will take some stress off your dominant hand.

  • Molly N.

    2014/10/23 at 7:34 am

    I once had to FLY on prednisone! As in, go to an airport, make it through security lines, and endure other people’s inconsiderate idiosyncratic behavior ALL DAY LOG on prednisone. Yeah. Closest I have ever come to prison. And the nightly news…

  • Sue

    2014/10/23 at 8:13 am

    I had De Quervain’s Tendonitis in both thumbs/wrists when my kids were young. Your symptoms sound similar to mine. A steroid shot in each wrist, some physical therapy, and immobilizing them in that clunky brace for a few months and I kicked it. 3 years out and I haven’t had it reoccur. There was a recent study that showed hormone changes after having kids can cause what I had and other wrist inflammation issues in women. You’re definitely not alone and it might not be just the texting!

  • Kristan

    2014/10/23 at 8:48 am

    – Have you tried the SwiftKey or Swype keyboards for your smartphone? They’re amazing, quick, and should help reduce the repetitive movements and strain.

    – Also, consider dictating to your phone or computer (vs using your hands) sometimes.

    – Gatorade bottles make me mad and I don’t even have an injury. My tip: Always unscrew the lids them BEFORE putting them in the fridge. They’re more pliable when they’re warm.

  • Kathi

    2014/10/23 at 8:53 am

    Look up the Finkelstein test, and you should be able to tell immediately if it’s De Quervain’s.

    I had this in both wrists after my daughter was born – the orthopedist diagnosed it as De Quervain’s and then went on to call it “new mother’s wrist.”

    I did steroid injections twice – each time my wrists felt great for about 6 weeks, and then pain returned. On a whim, I tried acupuncture, and it really worked for me. I started with 4 sessions in rapid succession, then one a month for about 6 months, and now I go once a year.

  • Jo D

    2014/10/23 at 9:09 am

    My MIL is on prednisone right now, and can’t stop facebook updating her every mood swing and craving. It’s a horrific play-by-play of side effects

  • Jo D

    2014/10/23 at 9:10 am

    good tips all around 🙂

  • Torchness

    2014/10/23 at 9:26 am

    Maybe ask for a cortisone shot directly into your thumb as opposed to oral prednisone. It’s what athletes get and mightn’t have the bad side effects of the oral medication.

  • Terri

    2014/10/23 at 9:29 am

    My 3yo was on steriods after an allergic reaction to penicillin. I very nearly locked myself in the bathroom and threw food at her while I cried.

  • Jennifer Cafferty-Davis

    2014/10/23 at 9:39 am

    The socks need alphabetizing……that’s all I needed to read today.

  • Elizabeth

    2014/10/23 at 9:42 am

    Oh Prednisone, my nemisis. Even if you are kind of keeping me alive right now. Moonface and “unusual hair growth” are my fave symptoms. Retaining salt and water are a close second.

  • charlene

    2014/10/23 at 11:19 am

    that crap is nasty. I ended up with bell’s palsy recently. They give a high dose or prednisone to slow the progress down. I ended up with such a severe migraine that if I ate the end results where not pretty. It is duly noted not give me it anymore.

  • KristenfromMA

    2014/10/23 at 11:41 am

    Ugh, prednisone! The insomnia and the water retention were terrible.(I swear I could hear a squishing sound as I walked.) The breaking point for me came about a week into a 10-day course. My hands started to shake, and I just couldn’t deal with that.
    Hope you feel better soon, Heather.

  • Marianne

    2014/10/23 at 12:35 pm

    The one time I was on prednisone (for a sinus infection), I felt like I could run a marathon and eat endless Thai food. My coworker told me I was glowing like I was radioactive. Then, on day five, I became convinced I would never sleep again and that my cat was going to eat my head like a bowl of Jell-O in my sleep. I called the pharmacist, who said to take Benadryl to try to sleep, and I woke up the next morning puking.

    Also, yes, dictation-to-text is your friend.

  • Katybeth

    2014/10/23 at 12:52 pm

    Have you ever met a Rottweiler on prednisone? That pretty much taught me everything I needed to know about the drug. Only side effect she had that you didn’t mention is she peed all the time. It’s can be a miracle drug, I guess, but people and pets taking it should wear a warning sign. Hope you feel better.

  • Heidi Corcoran

    2014/10/23 at 1:22 pm

    Also common with new mothers, you get it from picking your babies up. I got it with my first sone and wore the same kind of brace, no Prednisone although I did get a cortisone shot. It eventually went away.

  • Heidi Corcoran

    2014/10/23 at 1:25 pm

    Yes! That’s what I had in my right hand. I got it when my son was about 6 months old.

  • cattail722

    2014/10/23 at 1:41 pm

    Uh, just a thought, but maybe use the actual phone part of your phone instead of texting so much? Isn’t it just easier to talk than type tons of messages? Call me crazy. Or, perhaps, old.

  • rebeccaeee

    2014/10/23 at 3:23 pm

    Prednisone is wicked. When my son was 3, he would wander around preschool looking like Morrissey on a bad day. Crying quietly, not talking, wandering. At 8 it makes him a mad jackrabbit. My daughter will chew you to death on prednisone. She is angry, hungry, mean, demonic. We save it for life and death bouts of asthma. I wouldn’t take it for a text injury if you paid me b.c after taking it, all I’d want to do is text how much I hate it to everyone I know.

  • Erin Human

    2014/10/23 at 3:30 pm

    I know someone who was hospitalized for steroid induced psychosis after taking it for an eye infection… TWICE. (Obviously he didn’t realize why he was psychotic until much, much later, which is why it happened twice!)

  • ashley

    2014/10/23 at 3:45 pm

    I was prescribed (overly) Prednisone in college. Freshman year. Hellowuh. Freshman 50, right there. I could not go to class one day without finishing an entire box of cereal for breakfast. Seriously. I missed class because…CEREAL.

  • alexis redmond

    2014/10/23 at 4:34 pm

    Been there…on Prednisone. I had visions of beating the woman at Home Depot with a galvanized pipe when she asked to see my receipt. When I had tendonitis (Stress Knitting incident), I had the cortisone injection and it went away almost immediately. Just do it. Your well being will thank you for it.

  • Carrie

    2014/10/23 at 8:45 pm

    I’m still laughing from reading all of those comments on your FB page. Funniest thing ever.

  • talonsage

    2014/10/23 at 8:53 pm

    And this is only ONE of the reasons why my original GI kept me off steroids to try and control my Ulcerative Colitis even when I was bleeding internally and had lost 70lbs in 3 months. And my Lesbian Wife has to tell new doctors VERY. SERIOUSLY that her husband will leave her if she goes on prednisone again.

    I sooooooooooo feel for you, woman.

  • movita beaucoup

    2014/10/24 at 6:09 am

    You saw a sports doctor. You have an athletic injury, akin to those an elite athlete would suffer. Enough said.

  • Estella

    2014/10/24 at 7:48 am

    I took prednisone 2 years ago for a severe ear infection as an alternative to having my eardrum sliced open to relieve the pressure. Crazy energy, yes, but even crazier was what happened less than a year later– I started losing my vision. I couldn’t recognize people until I was right up close to them and thought a blond child was my Chinese daughter from about 2 feet away. When I finally sucked it up and went in to the ophthalmologist, he diagnosed with me cataracts– at age 45– and asked if I’d been on high-dose steroids lately. Gulp!

    In good news, the lenses implanted after cataract surgery finally fixed 40 years of nearsightedness! So I guess there was a silver lining to the prednisone after all…

  • Lizzy

    2014/10/24 at 9:13 am

    I ripped two cabinet doors off in the kitchen when I was a 14-year-old, 72-pound lass on prednisone. It was pretty epic.


    2014/10/25 at 11:15 am

    I am the odd man out here…all my life I have felt half alive and I can sleep like nobody’s business. Once I had a severe sinus infection, and I was given prednisone.

    Fot the first time in my LIFE, I felt GOOD! My weird rash cleared up (lifelong) and I had ENERGY and I could think clearly and I could wake up in the morning instead of bumbling along until 2 pm. I went back to the doctor and said “I THINK I HAVE FOUND THE MAGIC HORMONE THAT MY BODY DOESN”T MAKE THAT WILL FIX MY LIFE FOREVER!!” and then he had to splain to me that I am not allowed to have it, because in makes your bones soft (and other things) if you take it for a long time.

    I still remember those ten days fondly, of feeling good and having energy

  • francescafinejewelry

    2014/10/25 at 3:25 pm

    Buy a hunk of fresh ginger. It’s very cheap, like under fifty cents. Slice the ginger to the size of a little smaller than a dime. Double bag the ginger and freeze it. Take out one slice at a time. Fill up a mug of water and put in a slice of ginger. Microwave for two minutes. Add sugar. Let it sit a couple of minutes. Drink that. Do it three times a day. My dr told me that some doctors are going back to recommending ginger as an anti inflammatory because it works just as good, if not better than pills. It worked very well for me when I had a neck problem.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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