When life gives you Heberden’s nodes….whine about it.

So after losing patience once more with hands that ache, swell and hurt I went back to my GP to take the next step-x-rays and blood tests to rule out rheumatoid arthritis. I also was supposed to go back and see him in August, an appointment I conveniently skipped. Who wants more bad news right?

Word of warning to anyone who has osteoarthritis and goes in for hand x-rays: double up on your pain reliever BEFORE the appointment. Two hands +  3 x-rays each = pain. Lots of pain in my case. We had the flat on the table shot, the what I like to call “riser shot” whereby this lovely soft foamy structure was laid under by elevated and spread fingers to separate them and finally the “killer shot” for me: thumb and index finger in a pincer grasp-fingers spread and pinkie extended back while all lay cocked to the side on the table, and the x-ray tech says “please hold very still” and I look down and see my fingers trembling of their own volition.

They also drew about 3 gallons of blood, oh and I got a flu shot also, which made my entire arm so sore I couldn’t move it so I slept with the heating pad that night for sure. Long story short: definite characteristic nodes of OA but no signs of RA. Not sure if this is good news though. While I can’t say that I like the idea of my own bodies immune system attacking me from the inside, a small part of me kind of hoped that maybe an RA marker would appear. Maybe, just maybe then instead of just trying to mask the pain, I could actually take some sort of med that might halt the progression of the disease. No, I was only able to reaffirm that:

1. I am old and not getting any younger. 2. My joints are simply old also, tired and worn out and trying to remind me of that fact constantly. 3. I better get serious about plans for the future. 4. Elastic waist pants might be making an appearance in my closet sooner than expected. 5. I can help the economy by hiring a younger, strong, able-bodied and nice looking young man to tie my shoes, button my pants, chop my veggies, put in my ear rings, open my beverage containers, brush and floss my teeth, and on really bad days-drive me around so I don’t have to use my hands or turn my progressively stiffening neck.

Yes, I said it here first. Ok that’s a lie-I did tell the doctor I was pretty certain that OA was making it’s presence known in my neck also. Have had neck issues for years that never made sense until recently dealing with the hand issues. Freeway off ramps are by far the worst. There is no more quick glances back over my shoulder to check for cars, mostly because my head won’t move quickly; it hurts to attempt it, I hear these weird grating sounds in my skull when I do, and it truly won’t turn far enough to allow me to safely check for cars. So I stop, turn my entire body and of course by that time I end up sitting and waiting for a line of traffic to move before I can merge.

I have admitted to independent tendencies. I realize that I am someone who does not like to ask for help, ever. If I want something done, I do it, or I used to. I don’t like waiting. I don’t like asking. I don’t want to admit I am incapable. I have to get over that. I don’t have a choice anymore. I have to learn to embrace a fundamental part of life: sometimes you just need help. Jerry has been  warned that sooner rather than later he will be in charge of putting gas in my car each week. I haven’t mentioned that one of his least favorite activities, grocery shopping, may not be far behind. I can’t spring too much on him at once.

I am thankful that this condition simply means that my body is tired, that it signals that over the years I have been independent, maybe too independent, but at least I was doing things that made me feel useful or brought enjoyment to my life. It certainly could be worse. I still have hands that function, a neck that still holds my head up all on its own, even if pain comes along with these actions. I can simply say that I am now among the 20 million + people in the United States that have OA. I am a statistic. I am no longer quite so independent, but I am not stopping…not yet.