My Hands Are Changing

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.

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5 thoughts on “My Hands Are Changing

  1. Sweetie, I’m really sad reading this. I’m sad RA keeps taking things from you. I’m sad that there’s nothing I can do. And I’m sad that you are hurting. It’s difficult to put this into words, I know. I’m proud of you and your strength. If there is ever anything I can do, you holler, and it will be done. I love you more than Tex-Mex deliciousness.

  2. I’m so sorry; RA is a fucking bitch. And it’s okay to be angry or hurt for a little while, to resent all the new adjustments you have to make. You can still recognize all the good in your life and all the good still to come while expressing the fact that you’re pissed off. Does that make sense? I’ve been working on finding that balance for years. . ..I am sending you love and healing and hugs.

  3. I can really relate to this. It is so frustrating being aware that your hands are changing and things that should be straightforward (e.g. putting on a necklace, pouring a kettle) become so much harder. I tried to forget how bad my hands were by learning a new instrument over the past couple of months but it actually (unsurprisingly) made the inflammation in my hands worse. I had fun in the process but have had to face up to the fact I have to do less physical hobbies at the moment. I hold on to hope by thinking that I may reach drug-induced remission and might be able to do these things again one day though 🙂 Take care.

  4. That is hard. I’m really sorry. Maybe you can channel your create energy into something that requires a bit less dexterity? That’s one of the things I like about stamping cards. It doesn’t bother my carpel tunnel and tendonitis. (I know that doesn’t fix the issue of your hands, but maybe it would still allow you that creative outlet.)

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