Updated: Apr 19
A few weeks ago, I posted a reel to Instagram with a tiny paragraph about my lengthy adventure with my wrist that culminated in a surgery last May.
Inspired by some questions, I decided to write down the whole story, without the worries of making it fit, or keeping it caption-worthy.
So here it goes:
The first time my wrist(s) started to bother me I was in high school, 9th grade. I was diagnosed with double tendonitis, and consequently given 2(!!) wrist braces to navigate life in. #iwasthatcool
I spent much of my early years in a dance studio and gyms. Sidenote: I wasn’t very good at either, AND I super enjoyed the opportunities for movement, and flying through the air be it on bars, trampolines, or bouncing floors. Even without measurable success, I managed to spend quite a bit of time on my hands…flipping, walking, stunting, and rebounding.
My injuries really started to pile up in my 10th grade year….
Tumbling spotter “forgot” I needed a boost…Face plant!
Stunt spotter moved…I hit the basketball gym floor HARD with my right wrist and tailbone to catch my fall
Bruised palms from repeated back handsprings on hard surfaces
An unfortunate baby-sitting grilled cheese incident that led to 2nd degree burns on my “we’re #1” finger
Eventually, I wasn’t able to put any weight on my wrist(s) so all the things I previously loved, just weren't available in the same way. My left wrist made super loud/weird popping noises, and my right wrist had a weird squishy bump on the top.
I complained to my mom, who suspiciously took me to the doctor who conducted x-rays, MRI's and the whole works.
His solution: “exploratory surgery”
He didn't see anything to properly diagnose, but wanted to cut me open and look around. I felt like he didn't believe me, so NOPE! you will not be exploring through surgery. (years later my mom revealed she thought I was faking it, since my doctor failed to find any cause!)
I simply lived with the consequences of my injuries and activities for many years. Painful pops, creaks, and sharp/shooting ouchies were common place. I honestly thought everyone experienced the same amount of struggle in everyday life.
I found myself googling all sorts of things…not necessarily looking for a diagnosis, but potential solutions.
Every rabbit hole I ended up down, offered a solution: Yoga!
Long story, short: tried it, loved it, changed my life, and now won’t shut up about it!
In the beginning, Yoga asana offered strength and healing to my previously abused body. I felt right at home, and quickly learned all sorts of cool “party tricks”.
And then…the Bell’s curve took it’s turn downward and I started to injury myself in new ways as a result of chasing more complex asanas…hello, ego!!
Positive spin: I am now intimately familiar with my piriformis and psoas muscles, and I discovered foam rollers, body work, and energy healing!
I've had more than a few rounds of injury, learning, and recovery but nothing quite lingered like the pain in my wrist that reappeared.
My earliest memory of wrist pain Version 2.0 is from 2019…I was getting ready to visit Costa Rica and nursing a new weird bump in my left wrist, which I previously would have categorized as my "good" one. I remember canceling workshops, and taking rest…only to misjudge a hammock and land on my wrist.
I spent the next 2ish years in a cycle of pain, modifying, skipping classes, and thinking that maybe things would resolve themselves similar to before.
While some shapes were fine (downdog), others were excruciating. I found myself hiding my facial expressions in table top, planks, and anything else with direct contact of hands to floor. Photo shoots inevitably took me out, as my ego still wanted to perform the poses so I did.
I self-diagnosed with ganglion cyst…similar to what I had experienced in my high school years, but ya know more than a few years later and valuable discoveries and access to info.
I tried every natural remedy I could find…ACV cotton ball soaks, sleeping with an eraser wrapped in tight bandages, solid splints, and strict rest.
What finally made me seek extra help was also injuring my thumb on the same hand (not at all yoga related, more of the intersection of being in a hurry mixed with not-so-safe spiral staircase), which caused my two injuries to feed off one another.
On May 17th 2021, I had out-patient surgery on my left wrist to remove the ouch-y. I wanted it to be “done” by teacher training time, and I was completely naive to the healing road ahead. I even had my sights set on August as a “safe” time to try out arm balances as it aligned with the YTT schedule….lolololol.
I had two weeks lead time from YES to knives down, and I did zero extra research as I felt confident that the worst of the journey was over, and that as soon as it was removed I would begin to feel better.
Clue #1 that things were slightly different than I imagined: When I got to the hospital, my anesthesiologist informed me I was getting “nerve-blocker” versus full-on knock-me-out drugs and that I probably wouldn’t have any feeling in my hard for about 24 hours.
Clue #2 is when I woke up and my arm was in a giant foam cheese grater looking contraption and I had specific instructions NOT to cook as it was possible I could burn/injury myself without knowing.
S/o to my partner, Ben, for coming over to help me put my hair in a pony tail and other apartment setups for ease, my high school bestie, Shophia, for door-to-ddor car serviceand to NoDa Yoga studio owner, Jillian, for a gift card to DoorDash…y’all the real MVPs!!!
I spent most of the first day heavily drugged, confused as the where my left arm was in time/space and practicing a visualization technique where I watched my nerves/tendon/muscles/skin/energy all come back to life, and re-connecting. Before I went to bed that night, I could feel some warmth returning to fingers!!!
Also on Day 0, Fizzgig and I had a moment where I tried to walk him, and my “dead” arm lost it’s foam protection while fizzgig took an unexpected sprint. I basically tackled him, while doubled over and holding my arm to my belly using the strength in my thigh while wrestling a wiggly old man puppy back into his harness. Sooooo glad the neighbors weren’t outside for this scene.
Time line of next few weeks:
Days 1-7: used the foam for protection while at home, and showed up to teach bc NoDa Yoga had it’s grand reopening and I wasn’t going to miss this! Cleaning was super awkward, but I managed. This was the most intense, and I was the least useful in daily life. Text-to-talk took over as my primary form of communication, with a LOT of compassion for the translations from my friends.
Week 2: this is the super annoying phase of my recovery, as I developed an allergy to the stitches…surprise, surprise. #imsensitive My wound healing took a little detour as the minor breakout and itch took over. I also wasn’t aware that I could cut the stitches, and some of them were long so I kept my bandages, and splint on when teaching/typing/other usage to avoid hitting them on random objects.
Week 3: I returned the doctor for my follow up, and the stitches were cut and permission for easy movement!! Bring on the hydrocortisone cream and relief. At this point, I started some specific movements and treatments. Note: my surgeon didn’t give me any of this. I spent time googling, and talking with folks to determine some options. First, I used a jade roller on the skin around the incision, and eventually over the incision itself. The sensation was definitely intense at times, and I made sure to keep the surface clean so as not to risk infection at all stages. Riding the fine line of sensation and pain, I kept things moving in that area.
A few stretches:
Make a gentle fist with your left hand. Wrap your right hand around your left wrist. Carefully, move your up/down, side/side, and in circles. Switch sides, for good measure.
Finger tip touches - touch your thumb tip to your first finger tip, open your pale, touch your thumb tip to your second finger tip, open your palm, touch your thumb tip to your third finger tip, open your palm, touch your thumb tip to your fourth finger tip, open your palm - go in reverse (4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st fingers) 1-3x
Alternate between touching your thumb tip to your first finger tip, and touching your tumb tip to your third AND fourth fingers (straighten your 1st two fingers) 5-15x
Stretch both of your arms up towards the sky, elbows close-ish to your ears. Make little bird beak shapes with your hands, bringing your thumb closer to your fingers. ANd they are curious birds, so they look from right-to-left, also up-to-down, and maybe even in circles or figure-8s. They may also chirp ;)
Almost a year later, I’m still healing. But the climb is up this time. After 2+ years of NOT using my left side, or with deliberate variations, I found my left arm to be significantly weaker than my right (which is also my dominant side anyways).
I honestly didn’t think I would still be working on mobility, and strength this long after my surgery date. This journey has been super humbling, and I’ve learned a TON about modifications for wrist stuff, and ways to stay connected to my body/mind without my favorite ways to move.
While I’ve played a bit with some asymmetrical shapes, like crow pose (bakasana), the asymmetrical balances, like 1-legged crow pose (eka-pada bakasana), are a clear NOPE, and humbling AF.
At freshly 40, I’m not really in the game of chasing asanas. So my motivation to get stronger is purely selfish….because I feel better when my muscles/bones have purposeful strain.
A popular thread of classical Yoga, as explained in depth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, is the complementary opposites of sthira and sukha…Strength and good space (often called ease). For me, the good space (flexibility) has always come naturally. I can almost always touch my toes, even way past them (minus those few months of pesky piriformis), and I can probably do a full wheel pose fresh out of bed (doesn’t mean it’s safe or that it feels good, but the shape is totally possible), and I’ve lost/gained full-splits multiple times over my lifetime.
It’s the sthira part that I have to work on. Many of my injuries have come from too much flexibility unbalanced with stability, and yeah some ego thrown in for sure.
I’ve recently recommitted to weekly strength training, and prefer a combo of weights, punching sh*t, and mehh minimal cardio...blame it on my childhood asthma. There are many awesome options around Charlotte, and I recently fell in love with the training crew at HyggeFit. Affordable my yoga teacher budget, kicks my butt, with kind and knowledgable folks! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty much 2 turns from my home, hello convenience.
I am taking my first handstand workshop this weekend, will report back on how it goes. Promise to not lead with my ego! Wish me luck on the follow through, and wish me loads of self-compassion as I re-enter this inversion space with curiosity and not expectation.