The Crook of a Crooked Finger

So, Rheumatoid Arthritis rears its ugly head again. I knew it, deep down inside. I can feel when it’s stalking me. And it has been for weeks now. My right hand has been basically useless. I can type with nine fingers, but holding a pen in that hand, Aaiiyyy!

My rheumatologist says, “It’s incredible the disability RA can cause. You can have several joints affected with Osteoarthritis and still function, but RA can knock you down with only one joint being affected.”

Oh, so very true.

Still my heart sank at the thought of it being RA. I’d been doing so well.

“You sure it’s RA?” I asked. “Even if it’s unilateral?” RA usually attacks both sides of the body equally. It is its well-known calling card.

He laughed and said, “Just wait.”

I laughed with him and said, “I don’t want to.”

“What we need to do is start Prednisone,” he said.

“Yes,” I said, looking up at him as I lay on the exam table. “That’s what I want. Some of that candy.”

He laughed again as he examined my joints, bending my arms and legs every which way. No problem there, yet.

I’d first been seen by the Physician’s Assistant, as is the usual routine for my rheumatology visits.  He and the rheumatologist are like an extension of my family by now. He tried to examine my hand, but I held it out of his reach. I was afraid to let him, or anyone, touch it.

“It might be the tendon that’s inflamed,” the PA said. Trigger Finger, he called it. “He might give you a shot,” he went on.

With that, I placed my hand in his and he very gently manipulated my index finger. It could bend at the second joint, but not at the third, which joins the finger to the hand. He turned my hand over and pressed on my palm. I tensed up, but there was no pain.

“When you make a fist, does it hurt?” he asked, making a fist of his own hand.

“I can’t make a fist,” I told him and flexed my fingers, minus one.

“You might get a shot,” he repeated.

“And what will that do?” I snapped. “Give me 48 hours of relief?”

He shrugged and left me with the dreaded vision of a needle in my hand. I tried to relax and read while I waited for the doctor. I made up my mind I would do what I had to do to stop this pain. I couldn’t bear it anymore and there are so many things I need to do, like finish the quilts I have pending.

The doctor came in happy and upbeat as usual. He didn’t even try to touch my hand, one look sufficed, and there was no talk of needles. After reviewing his notes from my last visit and my lab values, he bade me step up on the exam table.

“We need to go up on your Methotrexate,” he said, once I was back sitting across from him. “It’s trial and error, you know.”

“I know,” I said. I’d been so happy to go down to one 2.5 milligram weekly pill and looking forward to one day taking none. Now I could kiss that dream goodbye.

“We’ll go to 10 mg and then we’ll work back down to 5 mg. You were doing fine with 5 mg.”

And I had been. It was a valiant effort to try to get off that drug, but I must face facts. There is no end to this disease and no end to the vigilance required.

“Now I will write you a prescription for that candy,” he said with a smile. “You need to have this on hand always.”

I smiled back. You can bet your bottom dollar I will keep that handy. No more three consecutive weeks of suffering for me. I’ve got things to do!!!

3 thoughts on “The Crook of a Crooked Finger

  1. cicampbell2013

    Seems wrong, somehow to click on ‘like’ for this post, but I wanted you to know I liked the way you wrote it, while disliking the disease. My right index finger is the worst one, too, though the other is well on its way. So I do understand your pain and your frustration.
    Do you ever fear that you won’t be able to continue to write or quilt? I hate the idea of not being able to write,
    But we’ll soldier on till we just can’t anymore, won’t we?
    Hope you get sufficient pain relief to get your quilts finished….and some!

    1. Irma Post author

      Thank you, Christine. I know what you mean about the “Like” button. Sometimes I wonder if I should “Like” something due to its subject matter, but it’s a way to support the writing, and the writer, I think. The problem with RA is that it strikes and then retreats. You just never know when! I am doing very well, as my doctor tells me each visit. And with his guidance and support I follow a regimen that minimizes my symptoms, until it doesn’t. Then we regroup and shift things around. I hope you are able to continue with your writing as long as you want to.


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