Privilege Blog

The Hands Of Time, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:05am

I love mornings. So simple and happy.

Wake up, make tea, make toast, sit down, browse the Internet. I’m not easily simple, the drive to analyze is strong. But maybe complexity sleeps in.

Saturday mornings I do all the above, but also, write a blog post. Imagined, drafted, written, edited, in the time between whenever I start my second cup of tea and noon. Them’s the rules I made.

This morning, however, I sat down to write and realized that my hands hurt. Pain complicates. I imagine some of you out there are in pain and I want to tell you I am so, so sorry. I hope you get better soon.

High WASPs don’t believe in complaining. They barely believe in aspirin. I’m not a good fighter, but the High WASP training taught me to endure. Sometimes for no reason. Sometimes even when enduring made a solution impossible.

This morning, hands hurting, I went to read my Twitter feed. Avoiding pain, I suppose. Lo and behold, Flat Rock Creek Notebook, who occasionally comments here, had posted a link with pointers about hand health for needlepoint. Let’s say writing is my needlepoint. Fingers required.

I did a few of the exercises, and feel better already. Also like kind of a dope for all those years I gritted my teeth and carried on. How one learns the complicated stuff and not the easy I do not know.

Old dog, new tricks — especially simple ones.

Thank you, universe. Have a wonderful weekend, all.


48 Responses

  1. I’m good with not whining about every little ache and pain, but aspirin or advil is worth considering.

    1. @RoseAG, They’ve found so many bad side effects of Advil that I’ve backed off it. And aspirin does not agree with my stomach. That said, I’ve moved past my culture’s proscriptions of medication:).

  2. In my time in Silicon Valley I wrote briefly, and then spent the majority of my time as a manager and then director of people and projects. I’d keep my hand in with a single writing project per release, and with an edit across the document sets. During my writing years I never stayed seated writing for any length of time without moving around to stretch, talk to someone, go to lunch, take a walk, go to a meeting. Two friends who were lifetime writers got serious carpal tunnel, had to stop working earlier than they had intended, and still have problems with their hand and arm. One of my staff members saw a problem arising and created an ergonomic work environment including voice recognition software to substitute for typing. She still works as a writer. Each new member of my staff received a booklet from me with a list of hand, arm, and full-body stretches to keep them healthy. If I saw a staff member working too long without a gap, I’d ask them to get up and move around. The human body is not designed to be a repetitive motion machine.

  3. Hi, Lisa
    Not sure whether your pain is arthritis-related, but Designs for Health makes a cream called Arthrosoothe that’s wonderful for any kind of joint pain or injury. It was invaluable to me when healing a broken elbow. The company also makes Arthrosoothe capsules (to be swallowed), which I haven’t taken, but I gather people like them. I hope your hands feel better!

  4. I’ve noticed my hands getting stiff in the morning. Arthritis is a family affliction so I know it’s just a matter of time before my joints succumb. Meanwhile, it is also true that diet can really help some people. My husband has had terrible arthritis, which has increased over the past year. He has found that avoiding the nightshade family (which, alas, includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers of all sorts) and inflammatory foods such as onions and garlic (alas again!) really make a huge difference. Glucosamine and fish oil supplements have also helped. And Aleve.

    Glad the exercises have helped you cope. Pain is a b*tch. I hope you feel better.

    1. @GS, Arthritis is the real deal. Sorry you and your husband are facing it. I have only a little bit of osteoarthritis – this is tendon and ligament stuff. I am just happy not to be trying to soldier through – what a little dummy I was:).

  5. Traumeel and Inflammyar are my go-to products for muscle aches and soft-tissue yowchiness.

  6. I injured my hand by reading of all things. When it acts up I put on a FUTURO™ Energizing Support Glove. It feels like it’s giving my hand a little hug and helps with the pain.

    1. @TheHuntingHouse, You are so nice!

      Want to know a funny thing? When I wrote this post, I was so focused on the happiness of feeling better, I didn’t even think that yes, I guess I have been in pain recently, a fair bit. But I’m congenitally cheerful, so mostly I’m always just trying to ignore it.

      Being natively cheerful is wonderful – I don’t suffer from depression, which I’m really grateful for – but it does cause one to fail to notice injuries and difficulties for what can become too long stretches of time. Thank you for caring.

  7. I hope you are much better :-)
    You are a brave woman, but you can complain and take a break from time to time,you’ll feel better. It is not weakness,it may be a wisdom :-) (says a woman who doesn’t complain,too! .But I learned that there are times to suffer and times when you don’t have )
    I adore mornings! With esspreso :-)
    Have a beautiful,painless weekend!

    1. @dottoressa, Mornings! And painless:). Yes, I think knowing when to back off or back down is wisdom, and probably often learned late in life by those of us who love adventure and the rushing in.

  8. Yeah, skip the Advil. Who needs a stroke? It was my old standby for years. I didn’t make the connection, but at a doctor visit my BP was up. I had taken Advil for a headache. They nodded. This week I had a headache and didn’t take anything. I willed it away. That took longer than I hoped…

    1. It was hard to wean myself off Advil, but, if not now, when? Good for you, willing away a headache;).

    2. @AK, I had no idea Advil and high blood pressure were linked! I eat Advil like candy, no wonder my blood pressure is high. Time to reach back to my WASP roots and smile through the mild headaches.

  9. So glad you found a solution that worked for you. I have to be careful as well, especially because I compound the keyboard/mouse stuff by knitting — and now I’m trying to get back at playing the piano . . . variety might help, I hope, and I do stretches, and I try, occasionally, to give myself some days that are as hands-free as possible. I find that the wrist stuff pulls in the elbow and shoulders — and then my neck starts acting up, aargh! A sense of humour is imperative with this aging! Have a restorative weekend!

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, Sense of humor, like fingers, required;). I think that’s a good idea, to take some hands-free days. And it’ll mean some social media/online-free days too, so, all kinds of benefits.

  10. Might it be too much gardening? I hope for your sake it is not arthritis as that is quite a challenging health issue. Mother has it and her knuckles are gnarled and slightly curled up…she rarely complains either…a sign of good breeding perhaps? The WASP ways have woven their unspoken rules into many families!
    Hope you feel better soon…

    1. @Bungalow Hostess, I wish it was too much gardening! With our drought, my gardening is minimal:(. However, I’ve got some serious pruning to do, so, I might be inflaming other parts. I kind of hope so!

  11. Hey – have you looked into the hand and foot kit that goes with the MELT method? It’s very good for myofascial issues related to arthritis and other pain triggers. I also recommend acupuncture – but only a GOOD acupuncturist (my parents are acupuncturists so I don’t fuck around with that methodology). Happily, California is replete with alternative practitioners of note.

    BTW, an occasional Advil can do more to help than harm – when all else fails and you’re feeling swelling. Of course, it’s not the first fallback.

    Drink tons of water and meditate on the sensation. I can say that I can truly empathise. And sometimes one must simply keep things in perspective (whatever that is). I just learned that my recent vision issues are early-onset cataracts (though prob not fast moving so I’ll have to live with the weirdness, potentially, for years before there’s anything they can do to fix it). My point: I’m 45 years old and I’ve spent the last 3 years (since that pertussis illness that FUCKED me over big time) managing health stupidity after stupidity. I comfort myself with the notion that none of them are deal-breakers. But man, it gets old.

    Happily, I’m no WASP and I complain all the freakin’ time :-)

  12. Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with pain in your hands. I have a few suggestions for things that have helped me tremendously. The first is the MELT method, which has special small balls for hands and feet. Kristin wrote about it here:

    There is a MELT instructor in our town and I took a small-group class with her.

    Another suggestion: baoding balls.

    You hold a pair of these in your hand, and roll them around. It feels wonderful, very relaxing, and the balls chime. It exercises all the small muscles.

    I found a hand health website a few years ago, and ordered this:

    for my son, who is a pianist. I was just looking at the website again, and there are some great videos, including a couple on using the baoding balls (which they sell in 9 sizes). There are quite a few different things you can do with the balls. There is also a wonderful video of the website owner appearing with Johnny Carson years ago. He demonstrates a number of exercises.

    I also take fish oil, and it helps with aches and pains.

  13. I’m so sorry you are dealing with pain in your hands, your primary tool for communicating to us!
    You might like to try some bone broth which has collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin.

    Parrafin wax dips are also soothing for hand pain. You can purchase the wax and a device for dipping (can’t remember what it is called) for frequent home use. The penetrating heat will be very soothing.

    I hope your hands feel much better very soon. xoxo

    1. @Candace, I do cook a lot with bones – not bone broth specifically, but bone-in meats cooked with some form of acid over slow heat. I hope that has the same effect. And now that you mention it, I did have a paraffin dip once, when I worked at Sun Microsystems and first began to have hand pain. They had free programs to help. So I guess I haven’t always been suffering in silence:).

  14. Lisa, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with hand pain. I’ve had it off and on since I was in my 20’s…and have had two hand surgeries, for “trigger finger” and deQuervein’s tenosynovitis. I use my hands constantly, sewing, on the internet,
    cooking, etc. I sympathize with you and am glad you’re looking into treating rather than suffering through the pain.

    1. @Margy Houtz, So sorry that you’ve had it so severely! I admit, it’s comforting to find out I’m not alone, although I don’t wish the condition on anyone.

  15. I wish you a pain-free weekend and look after those hands. Over the years I too have endured painful joints (digging in the garden becomes impossible), but a few days of light work cures all so take it easy.

  16. Sorry, I haven’t had it, but hand pain but be nerve wracking as you need your hands for everything. Have you tried acupuncture? I’ve had great success with it since I found someone good.

  17. “How one learns the complicated stuff and not the easy I do not know.” This is my special challenge as well, haha… Come to see it’s the footprint of paradox in action.

    Also, my landlord is a high WASP man of about 65. He requires immense endurance. Not sure I have the fortitude to take it much longer… any tips?

  18. PS: joint issues disappeared when I eliminated nightshades, specifically eggplant in my case. The main culprits for most who are sensitive to nightshades are: potato, tomato, bell peppers and eggplant. Reducing salt also eliminates finger swelling, for me at least. Maybe give it a try for a week and see. Thanks also for the exercise tip!

    1. @el, You’re very welcome. I’ve heard that about nightshade species – since my stuff is soft tissue, i.e. ligaments and tendons, I don’t know if the same approach applies. As for your landlord, I might have ideas, but I need to know what his trying behaviors are, exactly. Feel free to give a little more info, here or in email.

  19. I’ve had hand pain off an on for years and I am saddened to hear you experience that. I try to vary activities, and stretch. I find typing, writing by hand, knitting, and playing piano all use the muscles differently so it is good to alternate, as well as sit correctly with hands at the right angle.

    I tend to be prone to cheerfulness, and ignoring physical things. And I smile when I write that because I know I admit to long introspective periods, but I see that as a different struggle, and I am not inclined toward depression. It seems though that I am always learning not to ignore things…..

    1. @Mardel, It’s an important point, than cheerfulness is separate from the need and desire for introspection. It is possible to think a lot without having it make you feel bad.

  20. I have trigger finger, thankfully not painful, but it’s a very weird feeling. I’m actively trying to will it away, since the giant needle they stuck in my hand last time was most definitely painful.

    I’m sorry you are having pain.

  21. Although I found the advice for stitches timely I was most interested in your comments about your “drive to analize”.
    Me too.
    An even more disturbing infliction than the aches and pains that go with age.
    Oh for the peace of a still and quiet mind.
    I am so pleased that you complete your regular blog as I love to read it.

    1. @Robyn, Thank you very much. I wonder, since it’s what I’m trying to do now that I think about it, if it’s possible to find quiet and peace in an analytical framework:).

  22. If the pain is from arthritis, you could look on the Arthritis Foundation’s website for alteratives to OTC pain relievers, which, as it turns out, are not as safe one might have hoped. I use SAM-e 400 mg daily for arthritic pain in my hands. It’s pricey but worth it. It helps and it doesn’t hurt my kidneys. My husband is taking it now for chronic shoulder pain. I watch for sales at the local pharmacy.

    If it’s not arthritis, I’m sure you’re already under a doctor’s care.

    Aspirin is a very useful drug as long as you’re careful with it, and aren’t prone to stomach ulcers. It’s been around a long time.

    I also suffer from another painful condition less easy to treat, but so far, since I retired and am no longer on my feet for 12 hours at a stretch, I’m managing.

    Feel better, soon.

    1. Sorry you have medical issues too. It’s not arthritis, but I haven’t had my hands looked at by a doctor. I figure it’s the same as my other aches – soft tissue stuff. I’m hoping to address everything by a) working out b) being aware of when it’s time to walk away from whatever is hurting. We shall see:).

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