I have Epilepsy. In order to manage my Epilepsy to the best of ability, I take two different medications: Keppra and Gabapentin. 14 pills in total a day. Both of these medications come with a laundry list of side effects. In having a pretty good knowledge of the side effects and having experienced a good number of these side effects, I was not fully aware of or prepared for joint and arthritis complications.
I am a right-handed individual. Most things that I do in a day, I do with my right hand. My strong hand. My dominant hand. All of my life, I’ve been told that I have such neat and pretty handwriting. Clear and feminine handwriting. Thank you by the way to those who’ve been so kind with these compliments ha ha. Each and every day, with this hand, I advocate for Epilepsy. Typing, writing letters, posting educational information, posting insightful blogs of my journey with Epilepsy and so much more. Each and every day, with this hand, I pour medication and hold medication. I count out my medication for the day and week. Each and every day, with this hand, I cook breakfast lunch and dinner. I wash laundry and fold laundry. My right hand helps me to do many things in a day.
Roughly 3 months ago, I began to develop severe and debilitating pain in my right hand and wrist. So painful, I visited my doctor to have an X-Ray performed concerned that I had somehow unknowingly broken my hand. When the results came back concluding that my hand was in fact not broken, I was left with only one other assumption: Arthritis or Tendinitis? I purchased a hand brace which helps to a certain extent. Over time, over the course of days, weeks and months, I soon began to lose slight abilities in my right hand. I could no longer hold a cup for long periods of time. I could no longer part my hair with a comb. I could no longer grasp a door handle and turn it to open the door. I would wake up in the mornings to discover that my hand was so severely cramped it caused me to gasp out loud. I could no longer grasp an eating utensil so well to eat food. Making dinner, stirring food became a struggle. Certain things that I would do would cause such severe pain that I would drop what was in my hand and I would cry out in pain. My handwriting that so many would compliment me on, developed the appearance of shakiness and messiness because I could no longer grasp a pen the way I used to. Everything in a day that I do with my right hand, had to be accompanied by a wrist brace or the help of my husband.
I remember fondly, recently swallowing my pride and asking my husband to part my hair because I no longer had the ability to do so. Without question, he smiled and assured me that I need not feel embarrassed as he assisted me. In doing research, I quickly discovered that over time, certain medications wear away at bone density, bone strength and joint strength. I believe with certainty that my epilepsy medication has chosen my right hand as its victim. I began to fight back by taking vitamins and supplements meant to cater to bone health and joint health. To no avail, there hasn’t been any positive change in pain or strength. However, I remain hopeful that this will get better. Its been nearly 3 months I continue to suffer daily from severe pain in my right hand as I go about life. In calling rheumatologists for help, I’ve discovered receiving help is not cheap. Even just to have someone look upon my hand. Medical help is going to have to wait just a little longer. In talking with fellow Epilepsy sufferers and friends, I discovered that this type of situation is not rare. In fact, it is a frequent occurrence. I am one of many in the very same boat. At the age of 27, I had not a clue that I would be facing this struggle just yet. I had just begun to discover gray hairs ha ha. But arthritis? I can’t help but to think to myself, if my hand hurts this bad now, what will my 50’s and 60’s and beyond look and feel like for me? Absolutely unbearable? Will the pain move to my left hand? Will the pain move to my knees? Only time can tell. I still continue to rise above and do the things in a day that I’ve always done. Just with a little more caution and assistance from my husband or anyone who is willing to help.
My Epilepsy medication does indeed have the upper hand on my hand but it will never have the upper hand on my will and ambition to become better.