Carpal Tunnel - Anyone Had It?

Decorating By rsaun Updated 13 Jan 2007 , 8:11pm by Janette

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rsaun Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 3:05pm
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I have had a desk-type job for 11 years, and type all the time, but it wasn't until I started cake decorating in May that I started having pain/numbness/tingling/etc. in my right hand. I put off doing anything about it until now, and saw a hand doctor. He sent me for an EMG (ouch!) and confirmed that I have "moderate to severe acute carpal tunnel syndrome." I follow up with the surgeon on Monday, but in the meantime, has anyone else had this problem? How long were you out of service for your customers? What did you do with orders that had already been placed for the future when you were not able to work? Any advice/pointers/info would be great!

39 replies
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Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 3:42pm
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Hi. I'm sorry to hear about your CTS. I, too, have it and it's a real pain in the bum. I developed it while pregnant with my first child (who just turned ten!) and have had it ever since. I never went for the test, was just asked to put my hands together a certain way and press (sort of like isometrics). I tried pills years ago (steroids) but they did nothing and I also have wrist braces to wear at night.

I finally decided a few months ago to have the surgery, but upon getting my hair cut by someone new and telling her how I needed an easy style since my left hand would be out of commission for a while, whe informed me that she also had it and went to a chiropracter for treatment. It helped her. She suggested I do the same. I did cancel the surgery and want to make an appointment with a chiro, but right now I'm in the midst of taking my two older children to the orthodontist (just had their first visit for impressions and x-rays), so I want to wait a little longer til I know what I'm dealing with. I have discover, and confirmed with my doctor, that weight gain is a contributing factor for CTS worsening. The more weight you put on the tighter it makes the carpal tunnel and the worse the symptoms become - trust me, I'm at my heaviest right now (without being pregnant) and it's just about doing me in. Can't wait to go the chiro and more so, to lose some weight.

Sorry I can't tell you anymore, it's just that I live with it on a daily basis some days worse than others and I guess I've gotten used to it.

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OhMyGoodies Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 3:50pm
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I've had it for some time now. I've been dealing with computers for 10 years now and it's only gotten worse since I started decorating cakes. It takes me a good 3 hours to decorate even the simplest cakes icon_cry.gif... Wilton sells these wrist support things and I was wondering if they were any good.... Anyone try them for pain in the wrists???

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Marksgirl Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 3:56pm
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I heard the wrist supports from Wilton aren't worth the money. You are better off getting the wrist supports from the drug store.

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OhMyGoodies Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:01pm
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Thanks!!! I was wondering about that. My grandmother crocheted and did needle point and cross stitch until she passed and she taught me how to do it and I can't even sew a simple hem anymore without nearly coming to tears it hurts so bad lol... would be nice to have something that would help with this so I can continue all my crafts and passions icon_smile.gif

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noreen816 Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:09pm
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I was thinking of buying those wrist supports. Ive been at my job for 2 1/2 years (desk job) and sometimes my right arm will be numb and my fingers will have pins and needles. I have wrist supports on my keyboard and mouse pad, they help a little bit. I think I'm developing carpel tunnel but I'm not sure. I'm left handed when decorating cakes though, so I haven't had any problems yet.

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zoomitoons Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:22pm
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last december I had to have emergency carpel tunnel surgery on both of my hands. the surgeries were 10 days apart, the second being 2 days before Christmas. my first surgery was the scariest mainly because i went in to the hand doctor on monday, had the emg on wednesday and my doctor wanted me in surgery on thursday, however my son was suppose to have his school christmas pagent thursday evening so he allowed the surgery on friday instead. the reason that hand had to be done asap was i also had pinched blood vessels leading to my middle finger that was litteraly killing that finger, also i have trigger finger (where the finger gets stuck down or up and can't be moved) that first surgery was the hardest, however it was not as bad as i thought. they had me doing home therapy the day after surgery and it helped a lot, within a month of having both surgeries i was back to decorating cakes and using the computer with no problems. the pain wasn't bad however i still today have the occasional twinge of pain if i try to lift something too heavy with just one hand but i don't know what i would have done without the surgeries. prior to them i could not sleep at night without my hands going to sleep and hurting so bad i would wake up in tears most nights. both arms would go to sleep and i couldn't move them, my husband was great though and would wake up and massage my arms and hands a few times a night to help. since the surgeries i have not had any problems sleeping or my hands going dumb. it was very worth me having it done even though it was a damper at the holiday celebrations.
i did have a few orders i had taken prior to knowing i had to have this done. Thankfully none of them were very difficult and my husband helped me out a lot. we made most of the figurines the day before the first surgery and my mom helped put the icing on the cakes so they were smooth, we did the rest of the piping and decorating and actually got all the orders done and delivered on time.
good luck and just remember to keep your fingers moving as soon as possible and as much as possible after surgery to help the healing process go faster and smoother.

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doescakestoo Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:23pm
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Yes the drug store supports are best. I am having the surgery this month and have had the supports for over 10 years. New ones are better than those I got in 93. So wear them at night. It helps durning the day. I will be out of commision for almost a year after this first surgery. I will have the other hand done when the first one is healed. So protect your hands now.

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zoomitoons Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:26pm
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sorry i forgot to mention this in my other post, Vitiman B12 works great for carpal tunnel, it helps blood flow.

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cybourg Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:41pm
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If any of you are interested in alternative remedies you can try msm. I have had success with that for mild CTS. Also Tahitian Noni juice. I have heard of others having amazing success with the Noni juice. I know one person who actually cancelled their surgery after using noni for just a short time. So if you are interested at all, I would suggest that you check both of these out for yourself. And remember, just like regular therapies, with natural therapies what works for some does not work for others.

Good luck to you.

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Bradymom6 Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 4:57pm
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I had carpal tunnel in both my hands. I had release surgery done to both back in 1999 or 2000 and have not regretted it at all. My hands were so bad I could not curl my hair or even hold a book for any length of time without dropping things because they went numb. The surgeries were day surgeries and the recovery time was relatively short. I would recommend it to anyone who is having major problems with carpal tunnel syndrome.

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gailsgoodies Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 5:16pm
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I had carpal tunnel for 26 years. When my hands first started going numb, I went to the doctor. He proceeded to put needles in my hand and then administer electrical current to them...that's how they test for nerve damage...OWWWWW!! I figured the numbness was better than the test (and also my brother had told me a horror story of someone he knew that lost the use of his hands because of the surgery), so I never went back. I spent years with pain and numbness. I tried the wrist braces (in those days they actually custom made them for you) and got so frustrated with them because they actually caused MORE pain! That I took a hammer to them! I can't tell you the number of nights I was up crying because of the pain. During the day 1/2 of each hand was numb almost all day, every day. You adjust, you hold REALLY tight to anything you're trying to work mascara! Otherwise it would flip out of your hand! Well, I ended up going to a doctor (specialist) for "tennis" elbow, and I was telling her about the carpal tunnel, well before I know what happened, she gave me that PAINFUL test...which wasn't as bad as I remembered it 26 years before and set me up for surgery. BEST thing I have EVER done!! OMG, what a more pain, no more more sleepless nights...why, oh WHY didn't I have this done before?! However, I had an OUTSTANDING surgeon who explained everything to me (there is a band to tissue in your wrist, when your wrists swell up everything presses on the band and cuts of your circulation. What they do in the surgery is make an incision about 1" long in the lower palm of you hand, right above the wrist. Then they reach in and snip the band! Very simple, done with outpatient surgery) I was back at my secretarial job the following week typing away (not fast mind you, but still typing away! And no numbness!) However, make sure you follow the post surgery rehabilitation! Exercise your hand(s) as much as possible with a ball and rub the scar tissue on your hands as much as possible to break up any scar tissue. I recommend the surgery to everyone who has carpal tunnel.

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lionladydi Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 5:27pm
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After factory work and owning a cafe and a bar the carpel monster got to me. Anything done in repetition will bring it on. Who would have thought that years of pouring coffee or opening beer bottles would bring on carpel tunnel syndrome? I had the right hand done and it was a while before I could really use it. A few years later I had the left hand done. Now my right hand is bad again and just kills me when making roses. I keep putting off having surgery on it. So far just my wrist hurts. When it starts numbing my arm and aching at night, I might give in to surgery.


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lionladydi Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 5:43pm
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I forgot to add that the surgery was the best thing I ever did. Cannot believe that I suffered for so long before giving in to surgery. Good luck in getting yours taken care of. FOLLOW THE DOCTOR'S ORDERS AFTERWARDS!


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Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 7:05pm
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After reading all the posts I'm wondering if I should have the surgery. My sister-in-law who's had many surgeries for many things had it done and said not to bother because it doesn't help, but then again she has 18 herniated discs in her back from a car accident three years ago (also how she developed the CTS - by bracing the dashboard when her seatbelt broke).

Something to consider, although I'm still giving the chiropractor thought also.

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pluto6210 Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 7:21pm
post #16 of 40 much information. Now I'm wondering if I should get myself checked out. I wake up every night with numb and hurting hands! I've also found that when I'm driving I have to switch hands often as they start getting numb and hurt. Also when I make jewelry my fingers go numb....time to think about this. Thanks for all the information!

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lionladydi Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 8:20pm
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Originally Posted by pluto6210 much information. Now I'm wondering if I should get myself checked out. I wake up every night with numb and hurting hands! I've also found that when I'm driving I have to switch hands often as they start getting numb and hurt. Also when I make jewelry my fingers go numb....time to think about this. Thanks for all the information!

Sounds like all the symptoms to me. Your little finger, ring finger and half the middle finger will go numb. Then the pain starts going up the arm until your shoulder hurts too bad to even sleep. I couldn't take that any longer and had the surgery. I don't regret it at all. I didn't try a chiropractor as I have had some pretty bad experiences with them. I did try the Vitamin B-12 and it didn't help.

It is a big decision to make but the surgery was a breeze and the recovery was not bad. I think if I had done exactly what the doctor said afterwards, I wouldn't be having problems again.


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rsaun Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 9:11pm
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Thanks everyone for your input. Of course, any kind of surgery is scary, and you're right, gailsgoodies, that test did hurt!

The electrodiagnostic doctor who did my test assured me that the surgeon is really good, and he, too, told me to FOLLOW THE DOCTOR'S ORDERS and to not try to do too much too soon after surgery.

I still don't know for sure what the surgeon will say -- the EMG doctor said it looks like surgery, but I will find out more Monday.

Thanks everyone -- and for those of you w/ numb hands, etc., get it checked out. The doctor told me yesterday that it's good I caught it so soon (symptoms for about 2 months).

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coolj Posted 14 Dec 2006 , 10:10pm
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I had carpal tunnel surgery in August. It was micro surgery and the scar is about 1/8 of an inch. I had the EMG which indicated severe nerve damage, thus the surgery wasn't an option. My physician (hand surgeon)only does micro surgery (never cutting the palm) unless that is indicated once he begins. He told me that he only had to proceed to the palm twice. I had worked with computers for 14 years, then began with the cake decorating. Not a good combination. After the surgery, I am pain, numb and tingle free. I would want to speak with a surgeon who performs micro surgery before I would ever consider any other invasive technique. I have told my friends and acquaintences the same thing. Good luck to you.

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Cake_Geek Posted 15 Dec 2006 , 12:51pm
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I just had my surgery on my right hand the beginning of October. I'd have to say it wasn't until the end of October I contemplated trying to do another cake. I did a simple one (very little piping) and it was still rough. I could say only now I feel 99% again. I still have pain when I put a lot of pressure on my hand but I think its still healing. At least it doesn't throb, go numb, swell, or have shooting pains like it did before. My surgery was on a Thursday, off work Friday, Monday was a holiday and I did stay home Tuesday as well. I really should not have gone back to work for 2 weeks per my doctor but there is *no* way I could have done that. I just hunt and pecked at the keys with my left hand.

I think it was extremely worth it. And, if I wouldn't probably get reprimanded at work for taking more time off, I would go get my left hand done.

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lionladydi Posted 15 Dec 2006 , 1:41pm
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Sitting here at my PC this morning and had sharp pains up my left arm. Decided it was power of suggestion from reading this thread all week. icon_lol.gif
So far it is my right hand that I am really having trouble with again. Like I said before, it is making roses that really kills me. I just can't twist my wrist well. Took me a while to figure out what was wrong. I think I will try a wrist support and see if that helps.


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bakermom2 Posted 15 Dec 2006 , 2:30pm
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Well I see I'm not alone in the world with CTS...I found out 5 yrs ago that I have CTS and the doctor at that time wanted me to do surgery but I didnt want to. so now I have so many things wrong with my neck and back that they say surgery will not help my numbness, tingling and pain. They told me to wear the braces at night and take Z-Bec and Mobic, The Z-Bec is for the blood flow and the Mobic is for the pain, but I have found that when I attempt doin a cake or peelin potatoes, things like that I got a wrist support at a Dollar Mighty store { gave a $1 for it } and it works pretty good thats how I do the things I need to do. I know some ppl that have had the surgery and some it has helped and others it has not. but I guess it is how well you take care of yourself afterwards, just make sure you get a good doctor. Well thats my 2cents worth,,,, Happy bakin...

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Juds2323 Posted 15 Dec 2006 , 6:15pm
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I have cts in my right hand and not im my left but I was experiences the numbness in both hands at night. I would wake up crying it hurt so bad. I wear a brace for my right hand at night and take a muscle relaxer and anti-inflamitory at night. I tend to hold my stress in my neck and shoulders. The nerves that cause cts symptoms run from your neck to you hands. For me it is my stress that causes most of my symptoms. A few rounds of massage with my physical therapist and a lot of the symptoms go away for me.


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dldbrou Posted 16 Dec 2006 , 12:56am
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I to have had CTS. I went through all the braces, massages, heating hand in wax, therapist and a few other things. I finally had surgery when I was only getting about an hours worth of sleep at night. The surgery was out-patient, not much pain with recovery, back to normal within two months until I had a triger thumb. Had another surgery for thumb and now everything is great. The only problem I had was that I discovered that I was alergic to a medication they give you in your IV before surgery. They had to counteract the alergic reaction, which knocked me out instantly. I hardly had to take any pain medication. I would not hesitate to have the surgery again if needed. The shock test before surgery, hurt more than the recovery.

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cocakedecorator Posted 16 Dec 2006 , 3:34am
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Originally Posted by Marksgirl

I heard the wrist supports from Wilton aren't worth the money. You are better off getting the wrist supports from the drug store.

I have it as well from being at a computer for the last 15 years. I wear the wrist supports (this bulky kind) at night and the doc gave me some tips on exercise the wrist and arm to help eleveate the pain which has worked wonders. I invested in the wilton wrist supports and that also has helped alot. I am no longer out of commision for a few days after doing a cake. Also a guy at work had the surgery for this and is now in WORSE pain than before and has more nerve problems since having it. He has had to go to physical therapy for over a year since having the surgery. I told my doc. NO WAY. I know several people who have had the surgery with no success.

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rsaun Posted 13 Jan 2007 , 4:04am
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Update: well, I went back to the surgeon, who said my carpal tunnel was rather severe, and he recommended surgery, so I will be having surgery on Tuesday. Had to cancel all of my cake/cookie orders through March 1st, per doctor's orders, but I already have two new orders from those same customers whose orders I no permanent damage done.

I'll let you know how it goes!

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gailsgoodies Posted 13 Jan 2007 , 4:35am
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Good luck with the surgery, I'm sure it will be fine! Just remember to do the exercises and massage the scar tissue during recovery! thumbs_up.gif

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Janette Posted 13 Jan 2007 , 6:52am
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I mentioned in another thread I had hand surgery the end of September for the same symptons you discribe.

They told me there was a chance it would work, a chance it wouldn't and a 5% change it would get worse.

The surgery was a piece of cake. The next day I was using my hand just being careful not to get wet. No pain. Less than two weeks I was decorating again. And went on vacation.

I was suppose to go and have the other hand done but the first one was causeing pain , telling me it didn't work completely. So I cancelled the second surgery. I don't know how long I will be able to put it off it's starting to get really painful.

One thing I know it doesn't just go away. My hand were so numb I couldn't hold a pen to write. I may have to go back and asked if they can try again.

I crochet, sew, make crafts and decorate cakes. I havd given all up but the cakes. My hands just can't take it.

Keep in mind there is nothing to the surgery itself, it's not knowing if it's going to work.

There is a test they can do to tell if that is what you have.

Good Luck

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kaychristensen Posted 13 Jan 2007 , 8:16am
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Ok gotta add my 2 cents. I worked in a sewing factory for 10 years. And was one of the best (not trying to blow my horn) We had a standard per hour you needed to sew. I was qualified for several opperations. I ahd alot of repetative motion in hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. I had tremendous pain in my hands and wrists and told employer. They had had several people complain of carpal tunnel. And when my stomach was so torn up from ibuprofin I finally said something about it. And at that time with work comp. cases you had to go to the doctor they chose. icon_cry.gif So I go to the doc. He does his test and tells me you have Cumulative trauma disorder icon_confused.gif What does that mean? I ask is it Carpal tunnel or what?? He said No. Told me to wear splints on both hands for 2 months. Only take them off to take a shower. icon_eek.gificon_surprised.gif Ok I do this. I feel so so. I still have light duty. If you could call it that. Anyway after the splints I suffer some more. and my elbow and shoulder start to hurt icon_cry.gif I tell Human resources. I am told at this time I can't go to the doctor. I have to wait a few weeks. So a few weeks pass with lots of pain and they had increased the rate per hour of what I was sewing icon_eek.gificon_eek.gificon_eek.gif So when I missed the percentage by 5% they fired me..

Ok I should have sued. But my DH was glad they fired me. Becuase of the H*** I had been going through. I hurt all the time and cried myself to sleep from pain. And we were trying to get pregnant. So I went into a crazy state. I had never been fired before. I wound up pregnant. It figured out to be I concieved a week after I was fired icon_eek.gif Weird but true. So I was consumed with being pregnant(since I wasn't suppose to have kids and she was my second)

Jump ahead I still have the pain and often wonder if I should go back on them all these years later, My pain isn't as bad as it was then. But I can't do to much at one time with my hands. I thought of working in a bakery. But I can't deal with the demand I would have. At least if I am doing cakes at my home I can stop when I need to and go back when the pain eases up. I have taken MSM and it has helped alot. I did use the little wilton hand things before my splints and they didn't work as well as the splints.

So I wonder if I can go back on the company all the time. But I don't know if it is at all possible to do that. Given it has been about 10 years.

Good luck with your surgery. I am sorry I went on and on. It just brought back alot for me and had to vent. SORRY

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Mac Posted 13 Jan 2007 , 8:34am
post #30 of 40

I had severe CTS in both hands and after dropping the same cake 3 times in 2003, I had surgery on both of my hands at the same time. It was the best thing I ever did. I only have one middle finger that is a bit numb.

After the cake incident (Made the same cake 4 times) I decided it was time...this was in October of 2002. Made the appointment with my doctor, sent to a neuro. for the EMG, never felt a thing from the test...did I say "SEVERE"? Surgery was in January 2003 and I started back on cakes in March. Never regretted it.

Oh...overweight, smoking, high blood pressure all contribute to a possible unsuccessful CT surgery. Learned this while I was studying physical therapy.

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