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Robert Tamayo

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Nerve Damage

I have a bit of nerve damage in both of my arms. I first noticed it one day while working at In N Out almost 10 years ago. It started as intense forearm pain and general arm weakness while I was shaking the fries basket, and it got worse as the shift went on. I knew something was wrong, and I told my manager, but he didn't really think it was anything serious and kept me on the fries. The next day, I went to visit my girlfriend (now my wife), and it was there that the pain became much more severe.

In addition to the pain, there was a tingling feeling running down both of my arms, starting from the funny bone and ending in my ring fingers and pinkies. It was the same kind of feeling you might get if your arm had fallen asleep or if you had been hit in the funny bone. The tingling feeling was constant, the pain noticeable, and my grip strength had deteriorated. It was then that I knew for certain that something was wrong.

I went to the doctor and got my nerves checked out. By the time the appointment came around, the tingling and slight weakness were about the only things that remained of my symptoms. They ran some kind of nerve conduction test, and the finding was that there was some slight damage to my nerves, but it wasn't anything serious. It was probably just exhaustion, or nerves. I needed to rest, the doctor said, and then I would heal and everything would be better. I was also told to sleep with elbow pads as needed to keep my arms from bending too much in my sleep. If I keep my arms bent for too long, such as when sleeping or trying to sleep, they will go so numb and painful that they feel as though they will fall off.

Well, it's 10 years later, and the nerve damage has never gone away completely. I don't often feel it during a normal day. I mostly notice it at night. If I bend my elbow more than 90 degrees, then eventually arm will fall asleep. Keeping my elbows bent for more than a few minutes results in the numbness and tingling coming back, but this is usually only noticeable when I'm on my phone or playing the Switch or something. It takes about 10 minutes of being bent before I absolutely have to extend my arms again.

The worst part about this is that it gets worse for a few days every once in a while. Maybe it's due to stress or poor sleep, but there are periods of time where it's definitely more noticeable. The important thing is that I never let it affect me. I take as much time off from the gym as I need, knowing that my nervous system needs more rest than usual. But I still reached all of my goals in the gym, including Category IV lifts at my weight class and the 1000 Pound Club.

Anyways, I'm writing about this now because I'm going through one of those flair-ups. My arms are tired, and I can feel the nerves stretching as I type. My left pinky is a little numb, and my forearm is strained. I'll need to rest, but I know I will heal.

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