All Gangly

A few years ago I noticed I had bump in my left wrist right below the base of my thumb. It was painful if I bumped it on something and since I am left-handed, I was prone to bump it every now and then. I get squeamish about the stupidest things. Give me all sorts of blood and gore, doesn’t bother me, even if I’m eating. However, pull your eye lids down in front of me, flip them up, poke an eye, whatever and I have to look away. Same thing with this seemingly innocuous bump in my wrist.

So I decided to go see our family doctor about the bump in my left wrist. I do not live in my home state – I live in M.’s home state in the same area he grew up in. When I moved here with him his doctor became my doctor. M. really likes this doctor, and I don’t blame him since Dr. U pretty much saved M.’s live. So, thanks for that Dr. U, but I’ve never really been 100% comfortable with him, so I was not eager to go see him about my bump. But I did go see him, just in case it was some kind of malignant tumor that needed to be immediately excised from my wrist rendering my unable to write or type since I am left-handed. (I could pretty much do everything else since the only thing I do with the left hand is write, so maybe I’m not left-handed, I don’t know, I’ve always been considered left-handed… I digress…)

Dr. U didn’t do much (although I paid the full office visit fee, which kind of sucked). He basically looked at it, he might have felt the bump, I don’t remember, and told me what I had was a ganglion cyst. I had never heard of a ganglion cyst before that moment and to, ganglion cyst sounded pretty scary. It sounded kind of like some kind of alien life form had taken residence in my wrist. I almost wanted to tell Dr. U to grab his scalpel and cut the thing out. Instead, I asked him what that meant, and he probably briefly explained it to me, again, I don’t remember. What I do remember is that he said it was my decision whether or not to have it removed. Basically, it wouldn’t do me any harm, but if it bothered me Dr. U could refer me to a specialist. Well, paying the bill for some specialist sounded even scarier than some alien in my wrist, so I decided to keep my little ganglion. I call it Herve – no, not really.

So over the years I have lived with my ganglion cyst and once in awhile it bothers me, some times it hurts, but usually it’s just there. Then last week I noticed a sharp pain in my right wrist. Low and behold, there was an almost identical bump in my right wrist to match my left! So I am guessing I have another ganglion cyst, this time in my right wrist. Instead of driving down to see Dr. U, I went to good old reliable WebMD for some information on my newest visitor.

In helping me identify exactly what a ganglion cyst is, WebMD was much more helpful than Dr. U.

A ganglion cyst is a tumor or swelling on top of a joint or the covering of a tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). It looks like a sac of liquid (cyst). Inside the
cyst is a thick, sticky, clear, colorless, jellylike material. Depending on the
size, cysts may feel firm or spongy.

Well, eeww! It does kind of sound like some alien creature. I also learned the following from WebMD that made me feel a little better, but did nothing for Herve and his new twin:

One large cyst or many smaller ones may develop. Multiple small cysts can give
the appearance of more than one cyst, but a common stalk within the deeper
tissue usually connects them. This type of cyst is not harmful and accounts for
about half of all soft tissue tumors of the hand. Ganglion cysts, also known as
Bible cysts, are more common in women, and 70% occur in people between the
ages of 20-40. Ganglion cysts most commonly occur on the back of the hand
(60-70%), at the wrist joint and can also develop on the palm side of the wrist.
When found on the back of the wrist, they become more prominent when the wrist
is flexed forward.

Yep, that pretty much describes what I have going on in both wrists. However, when it came to telling me how to resolve the pain inflicted by these little boogers, WebMD was not much more helpful than Dr. U. Basically, WebMD told me that in the past people would break the cysts by pounding them with a large book (like the Bible – also called ‘Bible Therapy’). WebMD does not recommend I do this because it could cause further injury to the wrist. Gee, you think? Thanks, WebMD. Any solutions for what might help the pain and not cause me further problems?

WebMD suggests some remedies that involve doctors – having the cyst drained with a syringe, injection of an anti-inflammatory, or surgical removal. Basically, the only advice WebMD could give me that did not involve calling up Dr. U or some other doctor was gentle massage can help alleviate the pain. Well, I asked M. to rub my wrist and he really doesn’t like to touch the alien thing either, and can I blame him since I don’t even like looking at them? And more importantly, how do I snark at blobs of jellylike material in my wrists?! People might find me a little crazy if they came into my office and I was holding up both wrists and telling them how much I hate them…

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2 Comments

  1. SaraRae said,

    July 3, 2008 at 4:56 am

    I have a number of cysts and have for years. I recall you telling me that the pain the cyst in my right arm caused was my imagination…hmm…

  2. Storm said,

    April 23, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Those things are scary! I still rub them, just not very well….


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