To borrow a line from legendary performer, Johnny Cash, who sings, “I’ve been everywhere…” may also aptly describe the joyful and musical lifestyle of Marisol Koss, 39, currently of Davenport, IA.
“I’m an Army wife who grew up in Miami with Cuban heritage. And while I have more recently moved from Hawaii to the Midwest, Iowa definitely has its charm,” affirms Marisol.
Marisol’s adventuresome and talented spirit travels with her as a singer/songwriter and music producer. She learned to play the piano at six and was influenced by her family’s Cuban heritage. From her Spanish roots, to jazz, opera, rock and roll, and the blues, her life has been as varied and eclectic as her interest in music. However, about 10 years ago, she hit a speed bump when she began experiencing numbness in her fingers.
“I thought it was not only from playing music, but also my tech job at the time,” recalls Marisol. “My hands would start freezing at both the computer and piano keyboards. I couldn’t press the keys. I couldn’t play fluidly, and my fingers felt like frozen sticks. I was dropping things. I was so worried and it got scary.”
Marisol endured the symptoms for years until her life situation improved and she had health insurance. By that time, the Army had relocated her family to Iowa, where she was referred to ORA Orthopedics Hand and Upper Extremity Surgeon, Dr. Tobias Mann.
“She definitely had a case of advanced carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Mann. “Most patients who experience wrist pain often develop trigger finger, a condition that causes the fingers to ‘freeze.’ Carpal tunnel and trigger finger can happen at the same time due to inflammation in the covering of the nerve tendon which runs through the wrist’s tunnel to the fingers. When that nerve sheath is inflamed, it narrows and the tendons can’t align so they ‘catch.’
“Marisol was experiencing severe symptoms and it can be devastating. Patients can lose dexterity, sleep, and in her case, she couldn’t play. If the numbness becomes more constant, it begins to affect fine motor activity, like playing the piano or guitar.” Dr. Mann says left untreated, carpal tunnel can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Because of Marisol’s advanced condition, Dr. Mann recommended bilateral carpal tunnel surgery. It’s a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that releases the pressure at the wrist to allow free movement of her fingers.
“In surgery, I make a very small incision to open the ligament in the wrist tunnel where the nerve extends to the hand. By doing so, it relieves the pressure of the nerve and restores movement.”
Marisol had the surgery on one wrist in May and the second wrist surgery in late June. “The surgeries were great. They went fast, and I talked to him the whole time. Physical therapy was great. The incisions have healed, you can barely see them now.” Marisol has regained her dexterity and is playing again.
“Dr. Mann was so responsive and he took a real interest in me. As an artist, I definitely appreciated his craftsmanship and the care he took with my hands.”
“This syndrome has a real effect on people,” says Dr. Mann. “It’s a common problem and it can be fairly mild, but left untreated, nerve damage is possible.”
Both Dr. Mann and Marisol are pleased with the surgery and her progress. Marisol is back to singing, playing, and songwriting. She is also excited for the next milestone of her life journey that she hopes will take her around the world with the U.S. Army.
Have ukulele – will travel. Happy Trails, Marisol.
Watch WQAD’s report featuring ORA Hand Surgeon, Dr. Tobias Mann, who says improved surgical techniques can get you back to life without hardly missing a beat.