Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hands Up, Baaaaby, Hands Up...

The importance of hands is obvious. We have them to help us function through all our daily tasks. Some folks don't have hands at all. I can't even image. Then there are others like myself whom have anything but normal hands.

My hands give me nothing but trouble. As many of my readers may know, I postponed my next hand surgery until Oct, but admittingly, I am reconsidering and this is why. My right middle finger has been dislocated from the knuckle for possibly a few years now. I honestly don't remember how long it's been. Shocking? Maybe to some but when your hands are constantly changing and deteriorating, I guess it's easy to lose track. I adjust without realizing it. Both my index and middle fingers on my right hand are fused straight (both the middle and last joint on each finger). Both fingers are permanently bent at the knuckle. If you were to make pretended talking motions with your hand, that is the position they are in. But I can fully straighten my ring and pinky.. ya, go ahead and try that too. See my fear of high fives? I could really hurt someone.. LOL. Anyway, for a couple of weeks now, my dislocated middle finger, I say dislocated but I am sure there is no joint left to be relocated, has been, hmmm dislocating again? It's like it pops out of it's comfort zone, which at times makes me cry out and then I have to push, pull, bend and straighten (straighten used loosely) until it pops back into it's regular spot. Not a pleasant experience.

I have a history of problems arising, staying for a few weeks and then going away. I hope this is the case with this finger as there are some great work opportunities I really want to get a jump on this summer. My hands really don't bother me as I work. Today however, this joint seems to be popping out with every little movement. Frustrating! Regardless I'll give it another week or so before making a decision.

It's funny really, how hands are perceived and used. I've never given much thought to how I use my hands. When I was a teenager, I was so very self-conscious of my hands, especially before the surgeries, they were monstrous. I have pics but I'm too lazy to go find and scan them. I am no longer self conscious about any body parts. I use my hands in what seems to be the way everyone uses their hands. So I thought. I never really looked at myself as being different. I did noticed in dreams at times I would hold an object or move my wrist & fingers in a way that would make me stop in my dream and think, I can't do that. How strange. I wondered why in dreams and daydreams I would see myself in this way. With much thought I figure it is because that is what I see all around me. I see how everyone else moves, how they use their hands. You can't really see that in yourself. Well last year I saw for the first time, while teaching a class that was video taped, how I move. It was strange, I looked strange, I wanted to reach out and help myself...LOL. I looked like I was fumbling, but I wasn't. I looked awkward, but it wasn't on my end. I realized what others saw, why I was so often offered help. It was a strange experience as I don't feel awkward, or fumbly, granted there are times when I can't do some things, but I'm used to that.

My hands are often the brunt of many jokes, by others and myself. I'm not sensitive about them they are what they are. The day I smart mouthed Missy at a LSS she just looked at me and opened and closed her hands repeatedly. When I asked what she was doing, she said, "What you can't." Touché! Missy, Touché!

There's also the fact that my fingers are fused slightly bent. I have pointed at many things with the tip of my fingers going off in a different direction to which many smart-ass remarks have been made by family and friends. Like this past weekend, Jeff was sitting on the couch and I was showing Sadie where one of her toys was hidden. She's a smart girl and will actually look in the direction you point. I pointed to the fake potted tree to which she promptly ran to the edge of her cage, a foot away, stood on her hind legs to search, saw nothing and turned an inquisitive head back to me. Jeff, not missing a beat says, "It's ok Sadie, Daddy has the same problem too." With another pointed finger by me, she quickly realized the correct location and went on her marry way to stash her newfound treasure. Myself? I was laughing pretty hard, because it was true. You make due with what you are given.

Then there was the time I met Marah Johnson. If anyone has ever met this woman, you will know how full of passion she is. She's a character, quite infectious and very outspoken. Only a few minutes after meeting she asked if she could see my hands. I had only been asked this by doctors but didn't mind. I am very open and would rather people ask then stare and wonder. She took my hands in hers, smiled and said "And the beauty you can create with these hands." (Or something close to it)

It was odd, not a bad odd, just a new experience to me. I've never had anyone address my hands in that certain way. I was flattered, but not sure how to react. Do you say thanks to that? I can't help but giggle when I think about it. Like I said, I never really thought of my hands as being that different. But maybe it is something to be proud of. Maybe it is a feat to be able to function, live and create with these hands “Crippled from childhood arthritis.” said another woman who wrote about me as an inspirational entry in a circle journal she was participating in… Ok, yes that one cracked me up too. But are they really that different? Could others function with them?

I don’t yet feel like I have made any great accomplishments in my life. It’s not that I feel like a failure, I just don’t feel like I have reached the place I need to be. In recent years I have been told many times, mostly by strangers, how I have inspired them. This flatters me, but I don’t yet know that I am deserving. I mean what have I done that is so inspiring? Not given up? I really don’t feel like I have tried very had. Medication, yikes, you’d think after a lifetime of meds I would know the importance of taking them. As a kid, even having them right there in my lunch box, I would many times chose to throw them away. (Shhh don’t tell my parents) I don’t know why I chucked them. Even now, Jeff has to remind me to take my Enbrel. I can’t credit years of physical therapy, exercise, or health consciousness. I just lived the only way I knew how. I went dancing with friends on Saturday night. I walked, I shopped, I laughed, a lot. Maybe I have a subconscious stubbornness? I may just be blind to my determination, a survival instinct. The doctors told my parents and myself that I would probably never drive a car.

“There are modifications that can be made to vehicles to make this possible, we’ll look into it when the time comes.” The specialist said.

At 17 I had a 1972 Datsun 510, a great little car that lacked power steering. And I drove it with ease, ok except maybe really tight corners when the passenger would have to help ream the wheel…LOL. But no modifications were ever made. This car was a boy magnet too. Apparently there is such thing as a Datsun 510 club. I was always being asked about my car. ;)

“Chances are her disease will severely stunt her growth and she may not reach 5 feet tall. I think you should consider growth hormones.”

My parents took the chance, I am 5.5 ¾. Taller than the average woman.

“She will most likely never be fully independent and may always need to live at home. But there are wonderful housing options for people living with disabilities. They are assisted living. It gives the feeling of being independent with help always available.”

Not only did I move out and live with roommates, twice I lived all alone, for years. I loved it! Granted there were a few occasions when I knocked on a neighbor’s door for help with opening something but that was only after trying to frustration.

Again, I don’t feel like I’m anything special for proving them wrong. What I would like to prove is that I can be successful, that I can have a career. I don’t look to be famous but I would certainly like to be an inspiration. A deserving inspiration with a list of accomplishments that anyone diagnosed with RA, young and old, could see and be given hope. Since the path I am on is focused around creating, I will need these hands for success. I believe that it is possible. I am sure this upcoming surgery will only widen my abilities. That is exciting to me. To have a more functional hand will be a joy!

If you’ve read this far you must be insane…LOL. A whole post about hands. Bet you never thought much about hands before. Not like me, a long time admirer of hands. What’s that saying? “You want what you can’t have.” Jeff has wonderfully strong ruff hands. I always thought my mom had beautiful hands. As a kid I wanted to have her hands. My nieces have tiny delicate hands. I see a beauty in hands. They can express love, and they can express anger. Hands can show kindness, strength and character. Hands are powerful tools. My hands may be fused, bent, scarred and crooked, but they do the job. They are MY crippled little hands and I give them credit, despite the pain they may cause, they never really let me down.

This is what my hands made last week...It's a card holder for my MIL. She likes to make cards and this has each month so she can write name, dates and occasions for creating and filing cards she buys and makes.


DH said...

I've long thought that you have so much talent that God had to slow you down to keep you grounded and allow others a chance to keep up. ;)

Anonymous said...

ok, you amaze and inspire me. not all in your creativity but mostly in your outlook on life. i think your dh said it better than anyone.

the rhonna comment was the sweetest. i know it was not one that you have heard like that and threw you for a loop but touching nevertheless.

i think having your surgery early would be a good idea. it may just get more and more painful as it pops out of joint.


Adrienne said...

Oh goodness, what an awesome entry. Wonderfully said.

wendy said...

I think you may be closer to your stated goals of being an inspiration than you might think. A wonderful post. You doing MMM again? This would be a fantastic entry...

Miss M! said...

I LIKE your crooked little hands. They're so delicate, and so different, yet capable of so much and filled with such ability. There are so many out there with fully functional hands that can't get 1/10th out of them what you can from yours.

But you didn't mention your toes... :)

melissa said...

wow what a beautiful post and that comment by your DH said it perfectly.

your altered lunchbox is so cute!! your MIL is going to love it :)

cheryl mezzetti said...

I am adding you to my good blog reads on my blog. You are so creative girl! And Marah is amazing :)


Zee said...

You guys are so very sweet!

Can you see why I married this guy!? Gotta love him! :)

Suzy Q, You are such a great friend, thanks! Oh and I think ya meant Marah...not Rhonna...ooh but how I would love to meat her! LOL!

Thanks Adrienne and Wendy. Hmmm hadn't thought about using it for MMM but I may just do that..hehe.

Miss M, you crack me up! The toes...Ha Ha, that's a whole new entry! I'll go there someday. ;)

Melissa, Thank you, you are very sweet!

Cheryl, dude, I can't get to your blog! I really want to check it out, and no, not because my name is added...well not entirely...LOL. :p

Sonia said...

Great Post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You sound like a great person. Someone who has come to terms with what life has dealt her. Love the card organizer. I think I'll do that with my bg lunchbox.

Anonymous said...

yea, i meant marah. lol

did you mean meet rather than meat? lmbo!


Missy said...

For those of you who didn't read the entire post I will summarize: hands, hands, blah, blah, blah, hands, hands. Missy makes fun of my hands, blah, blah, blah, hands, hands.

Seriously, great entry Danea and what a great comment from Jeff (and he is so right). I remember the first time we cropped together I went home with amazement on what you could create with those hands. Now when I see you I don't even notice. I think because you don't think of yourself as different most people (who know you) don't see you as different either. If I could have the talent in your little finger I would trade hands with you in a heartbeat.

Zee said...

LMBO! Aaaawww you are so sweet but I seriously doubt that whole deal about "went home with amazement". My guess is you want something and you are sucking up. Whatever the case, it sounded good! ;)

christina said...

that was a great post danea. you are a strong woman and not all ppl can handle ra the way you do. you rate right up there with my mom and dad that i told you about. they are also very strong and have a very positive out look on life no matter what cards were dealt them. you inspire me as well. i love reading your blog and having seen what you create gives me inspiration to get my butt in gear LOL.

marah said...

ahhhh...you know i love your hands! I very clearly remember asking to see your hands? you place them in mine...and really i wanted to cry...because i could see the pain you have lived through in the many fine lined scars on your hands. I have a friend with RA and I know the pain she is in...your hands, so small sweet and delicate reminded me of her. I remeber saying...WOW, the beauty that you create from these hands! (what i was thinking was...she is meant to create...and i am sure creating is her thereapy) I am constantly amazed at what you create...how you create. I was an am still floored by your teaching skills, and your ability to teach even if the pain is sometimes daunting....you smile right on through it...you are an inspiration Miss Danea.