Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dang it All to ...

Well dang it all to heck and back.

I'm not going to really whine about this too much. Hmmm. Maybe I will. It seems that osteoarthritis has crept into my life. Well at least into my hands.
I of course figured that it wouldn't happen to me.

Stupid me. I sort of knew it would. My Grandmother Pearl had twisted gnarly hands and she barely whispered a word about it. I'd see her gardening, crocheting, sewing, and doing all those normal things with her beat up hands. At the time I admired those well worn hands and said something to her about it.
In all her infinite wisdom that I never learned...she replied, "Oh I don't think you want these hands. Some days they don't do so well."
She said this as she was artfully cleaning a fish with quick skilled movements.

My mom began to suffer the same fate as did her sisters. Arthritis crept up on their hands deforming them and sometimes twisting the joints.

Over the past year or so, my hands began to ache a lot. Certain movements hurt. Grasping things was painful. My left thumb continued to hurt making grasping door knobs a real chore. In fact when we remodeled, I had handles put on the door that I could just push down on.

Opening a jar can be tricky. Using an old fashioned can opener can be a trying feat. Over the winter my hands became worse. I developed Herberden's Nodes on the ends of my fingers. As those nodes develop, the pain is quite intense. I recall my father showing me the tips of his fingers and telling me that once the bump was formed, it stopped hurting, so it wasn't so terribly bad.
Oh, he was not kidding!

So this summer those wonderful little nodes pretty much quit hurting and I was able to get along except for the thumb issue. Sometimes at night, I'd fall asleep with a cold pack wrapped around the left hand. It numbed things enough so I could sleep.
Peeling apples for apple crisp last month made the pain nearly unbearable. So I decided to see how I could process apples without causing myself a lot of pain. Easier to make jelly, juice, and apple sauce than to peel apples.
Plus I got a food mill which helped tremendously.

Brushing the mules out for riding was even a bit difficult, but I decided worth the pain.

I sort of knew what may be going on with the hands. Goodness knows I've seen it in my grandmother, my mom, and my dad. However my fingers are not being deformed much.

So when my doctor and I looked over the hand X-ray results, I was sort of surprised. There it was osteoarthritis in both hands. No fingers were left unscathed.
The left thumb showed degenerative joint 'disease'. Oh. Ick.
Mostly it means that the hands will slowly get a bit worse as I get older.

Now dammit, how did I get older? In my mind I am about 30! I look in the mirror and see that older person looking back at me. She disappears when I take my glasses off. She looks much younger after I take a shower and peer at her in a fogged up mirror.

My doctor recommended that I see Occupational Therapy for exercises to strengthen my left hand and to see how they could suggest non drug like therapies to lessen the aches and pains. I am all for that. Our local clinic has an excellent PT/OT department and they have helped me quite a bit in the past.

How am I going to 'deal' with this? Well, now that I have a name and a cause for the pain, I will not quit doing things or baby my hands. The pain is not indicative of something that will harm me.
It is simply wear and tear. I need to work out how to do some things smarter and need to be aware of the "Use it or Lose it" theory. If I stop doing things with my hands, or I stop being active ... I will be in more pain and more health problems will arise.
If the body stops moving, it will destroy itself.

My doctor said that if the thumb issue got too bad she would send me to a hand specialist to explore injections [eeks!] and perhaps surgery [eek gads! NO!]. She said she had a patient who went through the surgical procedure and the recovery and PT time took about 6 months. No thank you!

This is not earth shattering but it will include some minor changes for me.

Yes, I think my father was correct. Aging is not for sissies.

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