My fingers are twisted.
As much as I hate typing those words, I can’t hide from them anymore. Because it’s not just that they’re twisted. They’re painful and more clumsy. Tasks that I used to be able to do just a few months ago are now nearly impossible. And it’s breaking my heart.
The good news is that the X-rays I had done last month didn’t show any major points of joint erosion. So as bad as I may hurt some days, at least internally, we’re managing my disease well. The bad news is that my fingers are still twisted.
It started out slight, I noticed it one morning a few months ago while examining my hands while I stretched. Just the slightest angle in the tips of the first two fingers on my right hand. They didn’t hurt, at least not more than usual, but it was jarring to see this change.
The twisting has been slight, and if you were just to glance at my hands, you may not notice it at all. But if I lay my hands flat on the table, you’ll see how the first two fingers turn towards the other fingers. They’re not gnarled, yet, but it is a noticeable difference to me.
Even without the visual reminder, I’ve known my hands were changing. It started around the holidays. I’ve been working on a pretty big cross-stitch design for a good friend of mine. I packed my supplies hoping to work on my stitching while my fiance and I were home visiting my family for Christmas. When my fingers struggled to hold onto the needle, I told myself it was because of the cold weather and the resulting swelling.
Each time I’ve tried to pick the project up in the last few months, it’s the same thing, though. I can’t make my fingers grasp the needle for more than a few seconds. If I can manage a stitch or two, it’s a miracle. So I’ve put away my needles, all my pretty thread, and refused to think about it. I haven’t wanted to focus on what I can no longer do.
It breaks my heart, these little things RA keeps taking from me.
I know I should be grateful for all I still have, and for the fact that this disease hasn’t yet eroded my joints beyond repair. I know I should be happy for all I can still do and that’s where my focus should be. But each time I have to give up an activity I love, it’s a dagger to my heart. It’s a reminder that on some level, my life is not my own. It’s a reminder that I will continue to lose capabilities until I’m left a shell of the person I once was.
I know it’s a slow process and I probably have many decades of happy life ahead of me. I know I will find new hobbies and activities. I know I will continue to thrive and live despite RA and its complications. But there will be a dark part of my heart that will continue to mourn the me I used to be and things I used to be able to do.