Sunday, April 3, 2016

Don’t Touch Me Your Hands are Cold!…


    I will try to type an entire post today, but honestly, my hands are just not cooperating today. They are cold. They are pretty much always cold, but since my hometown in Upstate New York has taken an overnight trip in a time machine back into winter and snow, my hands are especially cold. And that makes life difficult. (Or hilarious, take your pick...)
    You see, as well as Sjogren’s, I also have Raynaud's, which is basically autoimmune induced terrible circulation in my hands and feet causing my fingers and toes to turn lovely shades of purple when they get cold. (Or whenever they feel like it.) It also causes them to swell, stiffen, go numb, or react quite painfully to touching anything cold. In other words, I’m not someone you want on your team in a snowball fight and typing is slow going.
    Of course, typing isn't the worst of it. Having Raynaud’s is like having fingers that literally turn into hot dogs at the worst possible times. It makes things like writing or handling small objects really tough. You should see how shaky my handwriting has become. Sometimes even hanging on to things is hard. We do not own drinking glasses in my house. They break too quickly. Translation: I drop them. A lot! Not all the time, but enough to figure out that I do much better with mugs and things with a handle. This way I don’t have to worry about my manual dexterity or whether or not I can feel my fingers that day. Even frozen, purple fingers can hold a mug when the handle is jammed up onto my hand!
    Then, there’s the issue of anything sharp. Such as knives. Yup! I own ‘em and should never, ever use ‘em! Forget that my wrists and hands are weak. There are plenty of things even a weak person can slice up, especially with a nice sharp knife. But when my Raynaud's kicks in and I go into sausage-finger mode, controlling any sharp object is impossible. It’s like putting on a hand puppet then using its hands, controlled only by your fingers, to direct the knife with. Try it! I’ve actually sent knives flying across the room trying to slice cheese. I could be a circus side show… (Although the worst was trimming my rose bush and severing a tiny artery in the tip of my finger because I couldn’t control the clippers. I had to get one stitch. Just one. Who does that??)
    But with all broken glass and knife throwing, the hardest thing to deal with is actually cooking with Raynaud's. I know, sounds odd. But it’s true. Here’s why: I cannot touch anything cold. Not just freezing cold, but any cold. So taking chicken out of the fridge to rinse and bread or eggs out to crack and bake with ends up being painful. You should see me make meatloaf! It’s like watching a quirky contestant master a new challenge on Hell’s Kitchen. There’s hand flapping, hot water, winter gloves, and lots of jumping up and down while “chanting”. It’s also a riot, takes way longer than it should, and usually involves tears.
   One final example: I was at my brother’s house last winter. He has a raised area next to his steps with bushes surrounded by a low brick enclosure. It was full of snow. We were just dropping something off, so I had my gloves off. I slipped on ice walking past those bushes and fell with my hand going elbow deep into the snow. I wasn’t actually injured, but the pain I felt from the sudden cold was so intense that my reaction and discolored hand caused my brother and his wife to believe I had broken something. (though my asking for a towel and screaming ‘get it off’ confused them!)  And it’s just getting worse. So I never put my gloves away. Even in the summer, I can be seen wearing wool gloves in public... But hey, better that than being mistaken for a circus act!

I’m entertaining enough as is...

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