Good old Waitrose. I love their free tea and coffee. At the weekend I was sitting in their café, enjoying the quiet and writing a few thoughts which had popped into my head. After a couple of lines I had to stop. My hand was hurting too much and it was difficult to carry on. It’s easier on the ipad. It feels like bad arthritis, but there is no inflammation of the joints, just the pain.
My daughters and I have all had problems with our hands. The girls found it excruciating to write for long times, and it affected their exams at school. Fortunately they had great support and were able to have extra time for rest during exams, or were permitted to use computers. At uni they had disability status and were given options of tables and chairs which were at proper heights and enabled them to sit in the most comfortable positions. They were also given a portable recorder. Taking notes in lectures was difficult, so they were able to copy up the notes afterwards. One was also given help towards photocopying since carrying heavy books from the library was hard. She also had a small allowance for taxis to help when she was too exhausted to walk home after lectures or couldn’t ride a bike that day. We were impressed at the level of understanding and help through the university disability support, and very grateful.
The hands were a problem and I was able to find a hand specialist who saw us all. We had wondered about finger splints. The Silver Splint Company had some lovely ones and we investigated those. They were very helpful, but in the end, with their advice, we decided not to go for them. Finger splints are excellent if the joints are dislocating or subluxing regularly, but our joints were just painful at that time, so the advice was to avoid splints and concentrate on finger exercises. We do have some wrist splint supports for when things get very painful, though again, reliance on them can weaken the core strength of the hand, so we try not to use them all the time.
The specialist we saw did make a personal pen holder for one of my daughters, to help her to write more comfortably, and we have putty and little stress balls to enable exercises. Playing the piano is good too. A little trick my Pilates teacher told me is to shake my hands when they are particularly painful. It helps greatly.
We have learned coping mechanisms. I cannot hold a full kettle with one hand. So I’ve learned to use two. We bought aids for turning taps and opening jars. There are plenty available online. I found that the tannin in the numerous cups of tea I drank daily was exacerbating the symptoms, and now I have peppermint tea in the mornings and very weak tea for the rest of the day. The aching has reduced dramatically, though never goes away. I bought a lightweight hairdryer. I still have to put it down after a couple of minutes of use, but it is better than the old one. I can’t hold the landline phone for long and have to change hands every couple of minutes – thank goodness for texts and emails.