No, I don’t mean the candy bar. Though I haven’t had one in about a thousand years (Ok, I exaggerate), I can still savor the crumbly, peanut-buttery taste that slowly dissolves in your mouth. Unless you crunch down and chew it away quickly. And who wants that?
I refer to actual fingers. Mine, to be exact. And I suppose those of many others who deal with some form of arthritis. In my case, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
OA comes from wear and tear. And after thirty years of mostly bedside nursing, raising children, and keeping house my hands are worn and torn. Not visually, mind you. Visually, they’ve held up pretty well.
But inside, oh, inside they hide the impact of their hard work.
Now RA comes uninvited. Unbidden, as I referred to it in one of my poems. I’m not sure when mine came knocking, but it was formally introduced to me in 2004. Ten years this relationship has lasted. Ten official years of living together.
The first thing I noticed, the first physical thing, other than a generalized malaise and lethargy, was the declining agility and flexibility of my hands. They seemed to be stuffed with cotton. Or stuffed in several layers of mittens. Mittens, not gloves.
Suddenly, the people behind me at the grocery check-out line had to wait patiently while my clumsy fingers dug out small coins from my wallet. Even the bills seemed to be stuck together in a way they’d never been before. I’d always paid cash with the correct change for my groceries. Something my father taught me, I suppose.
No one said anything, but I could feel the eyes on me as they waited. And waited. I began to feel self-conscious about it and that made the going even slower. My heart beat at a higher rate as my turn approached to lay my things on the conveyor belt.
It’s silly, isn’t it? To worry about being able to dig money out of your wallet fast enough. But that wasn’t the only thing my seemingly thickened, somewhat petrified fingers affected.
The sewing needle seemed to have disappeared. It’s girth reduced to nothingness. I could see it, but picking it up and holding it was another matter. It was a minute, slippery, slithery snake that I could barely control.
Along came steroids (Prednisone), and with that a new day dawned. Or maybe an old day, when I had full control of my fingers, when they were dexterous once again. And, painless.
I have had many years on steroids, and many years off steroids. Off is better. Better for your overall health. On is better for your fluidity of movement. Though it is an artificial suppleness.
Currently, I’m off. And plan to stay that way. At least, 90% of the time. With RA you learn there is a lot of give and take. And if you don’t give, it will take.
I have come to accept that I will henceforth live with a terminal case of butterfingers. At this point, a slight degree of painless butterfingers. One that does not stop me from doing anything I want to do. From writing to typing, from cooking to hand sewing, from housecleaning to holding an actual book in my hands. From caressing the lovely little faces of my granddaughters to whipping out the credit card to buy them things.
And speaking of the art of buying, we’re going shopping today. I think I will pick me up a bit of that crumbly, peanut-buttery escape.