One Quarter Inch

One of the most unexplainable things is hand pain. Undescribable and indescribable.

Another is the absence of hand pain.

You cannot know one without knowing the other. If you’ve never had hand pain, the kind that makes you want to chop them off, you cannot relate to hands that have stopped hurting.

The pain consumes you and sabotages every act you engage in, or try to engage in. It’s depressive and depressing. “I can see you’re not feeling well,” my doctor said a few moments after walking into the exam room on my last visit.

Body language. My body had spoken volumes without my saying more than hello to him. I smiled. No need to add words to what my body screamed out loud.

Later, when he went to bend my fingers one by one, as he always begins his exam, he noted that there was more tension. My fingers were harder to bend. More tension in fiction is great, in my fingers, not so much.

But, I refused to give in to it. During this flare-up, I made two quilts with those hurting hands. Hands that could, once again, barely touch forefinger to thumb.

So while making this last red and white quilt, I came to a decision. I would make a concession. I would no longer do hand-stitched bindings. Instead, I would machine stitch them. And that meant I would have to cut the binding strips wider, not 2 and 1/2 inches, but 2 and 3/4 inches wide.

These days I am feeling lots better, My fingers are much more pliable, and machine stitching the bindings will speed things up, making me far more productive as I head into the holiday season.  But now, I have an exact measure as to how much this latest skirmish has cost me. How much ground I concede to RA this time.  Exactly one quarter inch.


Inspired by this site.


A wall hanging I made for my granddaughter’s first birthday. How time flies.

4 thoughts on “One Quarter Inch

  1. J.G. Chayko

    I am so glad you are feeling better; the hand pain is the worst of RA flares. I don’t have the talent you have for sewing, but I certainly feel the frustration on the days when my hand pain prevents me from typing. I hope your hands remain well and pliable for a good long time. Arthritis should not stop us from our joy.

    1. Irma

      Typing helps me loosen up my fingers. The heat my laptop gives off is soothing. But, the pain does slow down the creative process. Regardless, I won’t let RA take everything from me! I hope you’re doing well.

  2. Wren

    Determined. Undaunted. Brave. Sometimes, quite mad. In Finnish, it’s called sisu–best translated as perseverence in the face of–or in defiance of–obstacles. All those words describe you, Irma.

    I know how frustrating and demoralizing hand-pain can be; I cope with it nearly all the time these days. And yet you’re still creating your art, only using shortcuts when you must. You inspire me!

    1. Irma Post author

      Sometimes quite mad describes me well, in both senses of the word! I like that, Sisu. Thank you, Wren. I’m sorry you are having so much hand pain. I’m surprised I’m doing so well so quickly with the Plaquenil, but maybe it’s more of a placebo effect! Whatever, I’ll take it.


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