What else ails you?

I write for a living, so I really value the full use of my fingers for typing and for scribbling notes during interviews.

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than a dozen years ago, one of the things I worried about most was that I might develop spasticity in my hands, making it hard or even impossible for me to type and write.

That, thank goodness, hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

But that doesn’t mean my hands are in top form.

As anyone with MS knows, having this disease doesn’t mean you can’t get other ailments, too. People with MS get cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other illnesses just as people without MS do. It might not seem quite fair, but that’s how it is.

So we have to be just as diligent about caring for our overall health as our MS-free friends are.

In recent weeks I’ve been sadly surprised to see that I’m developing arthritis in my hands. My finger joints have started to swell and feel stiff and sore – not always, but often enough that I’ve had to take notice. On days like today, when my fingers do hurt, it is harder to type, write, and even practice yoga (which I had hoped might help protect me against arthritis!) than on days when they feel fine.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. My fingers are just starting to look like my mom’s fingers. Ma is in her late 80s, bless her heart, and she accepts those stiff joints and gnarly knuckles with a mixture of annoyance, bemusement and resignation. After all, there’s not much she can do about them. 

But Ma inspires me: Her hands reflect a lifetime of hard work, and she has never let her arthritis get in her way. She still does her own plumbing repairs, for Pete’s sake! She also gets up every morning, grabs a pen, eyeglasses and a mug of coffee and works the crossword puzzle – and her handwriting is as elegant as ever.

I’m going to try my best to follow Ma’s example. I don’t have to love my arthritic hands, but I’ll have to learn to live with them and work around the discomfort they cause.

Hmmm. Sounds a lot like the way I feel about MS, now that I think about it.
Tags Healthcare, Symptoms      8

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.