Monday, January 18, 2016

ouch. just.plain.ouch.

very few people are aware of the problem i have with my hands.  i have developed chronic, sometimes severe, hand pain.  i don't talk about it on social media, except brief references. i dislike complaining about aches and pains.   

it's hard to pin point when it got too much  to bear, but it sent me to the urgent care over the summer because they ached so badly i couldn't stop the tears.

the pain originates in the very base of the thumb, down near the wrist.

arthritis, i figured.  i have vivid memories of my mother complaining about her "arthritic thumbs".

ibuprofen would sometimes help, but i hate taking medication.  i tried all the herbal things, (except turmeric, which is next) copper gloves, copper bracelets, copper rings, braces, heat, ice, arnica topical, arnica homeopathic meds... next up - accupuncture.

i saw an infectious disease specialist in september to rule out a tick borne disease.  all that was negative, and the doctor said "i think it's tendonitis, i don't see any evidence of arthritis in your hands except your right forefinger" (which i knew, it's an ugly bent finger that i swear at almost daily).  he advised me to see an orthopedic to rule out other things...

so then life got hectic to say the least and my hands calmed down a bit, enough to make me lax.  until it got so painful again that i couldn't take it.  last tuesday i saw the orthopedist hand specialist.  he took xrays.

and even i could see the arthritis... osteoarthritis - the base of each thumb the worst.  he shook his head and said "it's bone on bone.  both hands.  it's riddled with bone spurs.  both hands."

why not?
first of all i won't take a narcotic - they make me puke.  all of them.
and b - even ibuprofen or aleve is bad for me.  they play with my liver numbers, apparently i'm sensitive - all those lovely years of alcohol, i'm sure.

no. tried it.

nope.  tried it.

well - how about a particularly nasty surgery where i clean it all out and cut a piece of bone off and we take a tendon from your forearm and put it in your thumb so that it doesn't collapse and be shorter.

oh my.

well, i can inject each joint with cortisone.  you can have one shot every three months if needed, but this should help at least a little.
bring it on doc.

i've had a cortisone shot before.  in my shoulder many years ago after a chair-exiting incident.

and then hell arrived in the form of 2 needles, 2 bandaids and some alcohol wipes.

i won't go into gory detail, but if there's one joint you never want injected with cortisone, it's that one.  and lucky me, i got to have each one done!

i drove back to work in tears.  i allowed myself a little pity party.  i was so disappointed in my diagnosis because i had an expectation.  i expected him to say 'tendonitis'.  and words like 'massage' 'physical therapy' and 'will feel better'.

instead i got the opposite.  and that's where the pity party came in.  i allowed those tears for just a short moment and had a couple of brief moments later on when i told my coworkers and then jeff.  and then i dusted off my brave girl thongs and thought about handling life changers with grace instead of self pity.

self pity was only going to dig me deeper into a dark pit.  my mind was already trying to figure out how i was going to live with this level of pain on a daily basis.  plus it affects my art - my hands are my livelihood.

i remembered how my mother handled me telling her that her cancer wasn't responding and that time was short.  she put her head down for a moment.  i swear, less than 5 seconds.  and then raised her head, looked me in the eye with clear eyes of her own, and said "well then we'd better get this place packed up!"

i never saw her shed one tear after that.  if she had meltdowns, she did them on her own - not that we wanted her to do that - trust me.  but she refused to do that.  and i respected her for that - she just set out to enjoy as much of life as she could in the time remaining - whether it was a trip to the pizza parlor or asking me to paint smiley faces on her toenails so she could smile when she looked at them.

and i should feel sorry for myself? pfffttt.  people have it much worse than me.  i lead a mystical, magical, loved filled life.  unfortunately, pain is a part of it.

the good news is that so far, one week later after shots, my hand pain is reduced by about 75%, with cautionary twinges rather than constant aching.  for this relief alone i am grateful.

i actually started this blog post not to go into such detail about my issues, but to show you all the cool stuff i had to get to be able to do my assemblage art without killing myself with hand pain.  the chop saw, the scroll saw and the belt sander are all craft size - they're small and PERFECT.

hand tools do me the worst harm, so i had to reduce the amount of that...

my only worry, and probably the worry of most of the free world, is that i'm extraordinarily clumsy and accident prone and now i have power tools to help me along.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


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