Living with Arthritis

Alas, getting old sucks. A lot of things begin to degrade, and just stop working. Mid last year my left thumb started to become painful. At first, I assumed it was just a physical damage like I jammed my thumb. When after a month or so, it didn’t get better, so off to a doctor I went.

Long story short, the prognosis was osteo arthritis. The usual treatments were tried, spica brace (OTS and custom made), NSAIDs, and finally a cortisone shot into the joint.

I also tried the alternative solutions. Glucosamine and MSM. Alas, they seemed to be a big heaping pile of placebo, even in high dosages, for several months, no noticeable relief.

All that happened was a temporary respite. The only thing that helped was massive doses of NSAIDs. 800 mg Ibuprofen 2x a day did a pretty good job of keeping the sharp pain at bay. But that is not good, as I also take statins, beta blockers, ace inhibitors, and anti coagulants (don’t ask), adding 800mg of Vitamin I made me bleed in interesting areas. So I am off the NSAIDs.

There is surgery, but it is not a good option, as mobility will be greatly curtailed. The hand specialist told me that they don’t do that surgery in people my age (too young). Gulp.

Now, I am in a constant low grade pain. I can’t play guitar. I can hold on to a bicycle, but not sure for how much longer.

Getting old sucks. I fear that from now until the long goodnight, it is just a series of disappointments as I have more and more things I can’t do.

Sigh.

More hand suckage – Cortisone shot

Ugh. My 6 weeks with a brace on my thumb didn’t help. I guess I am not surprised, at best it was going to help ease the bone on bone rubbing.

Today, I went back to the hand specialist. He wasn’t surprised that it wasn’t improving. The degeneration of cartilage is not really reversible. Just controllable.

Today I got a cortisone shot. The needle was much smaller than the one when I got a shot for my plantar fasciitis. Woo hoo. But it hurt a lot more than the shot in my heel. Hmm, I guess there are a lot more nerves in the hand.

The doctor was surprised that he got most of the cortisone shot in. Most of the time he can only get about half. Of course, he is usually giving them to little old ladies though.

It felt OK after. A little stiff, not surprising since 3cc of cortisone was injected. But the doctor warned me that the anesthetic would wear off and it would hurt bad this afternoon. Also that it might be a good idea to take some ibuprofen.

No shit. it is 1:00PM, and it hurts like hell. I took 800mg, and will take 800mg more this evening.

As I was leaving I asked the doctor how often I would need shots. He said that you get two. Total. So the goal is to go as long as possible until the second one.

Gulp. I will keep taking my glucosamine, I will take ibuprofen. I will nurse this as long as I can.

Sadly, I am certain that my days of playing guitar are coming to a close.

Next steps

When it gets worse, there is surgery, but it is not pleasant. It will be a fusing of the bones in the wrist to prevent out of plane motion. Typically not done until people are much older. I know that will be a bad bad day when that is the only option.

Arthritis sucks

Not sure where it came from. Perhaps it was playing too much guitar, or all the motorcycle/bicycle riding I have done over the years. Or it is just bad luck, but the arthritis in my left thumb sucks.

I started noticing it a few months ago. When I started cycling again seriously (more than once a month 😉 ) I noticed that my left thumb was sore afterwards. It has gotten progressively worse, until in early September I went to my doctor. X-Rays showed a deterioration of the cartilage in my left thumb (boo) and a bone spur. Put me in a spica splint, told me to take 800mg of vitamin I twice a day, and if it didn’t get noticeably better in two week, to go to a specialist.

Needless to say, it didn’t magically improve, so off to a specialist I go.

There I get more x-rays, and a really shitty piece of news. There is virtually NO cartilage left in my left thumb, there are multiple bone spurs, and while the bone spurs will likely wear down (and thus the discomfort will reduce somewhat), my thumb will never be good again. This time I get a custom make spica splint for my thumb to wear while sleeping, and I still take shedloads of vitamin I.

After that first appointment with the specialist, I will admit that I had to sit in my car and cry. My thumb (and by extension hand) will NEVER be good again. I go back in 6 weeks to check on it, and if it isn’t better (and the Dr. said that was a stretch), it would be time for cortisone shots. That should control the discomfort. But the cartilage is gone for good.

Today, I tried playing guitar. Good news/bad news. I have done enough practicing in the last few months that some of my speed and chops were coming back. Bad news is that the thumb pain is pretty bad while playing. I fear it is just a matter of time until I will have to put my axes in the case and give up playing.

I am too damn young for this shit.

A bad day – Health edition

Well, I have been struggling with my hand for a while. I thought I had jammed my thumb,and it wasn’t healing properly. After 6 weeks or so, I realized that it wasn’t getting better.

About a month ago I finally went to my GP and after some X-Rays it looked like it wasn’t a damaged tendon, or “jam”. The X-Ray showed some bone spurs and what looked like it might be the start of arthritis. Gulp.

Today I met with a specialist. It is far worse than I originally thought. I have no cartilage left in my left thumb, there is severe arthritis, several bone spurs, and it is pretty much as good as it will ever be.

Next week I will get a special splint to hold it motionless at night. 6 weeks of that to see if the pain is reduced. If not, then we move on to cortisone shots.

At this point there is no cure. I am considered too young for surgery (don’t ask, it is a bad option), and eventually it will all wear in and hurt less.

One thing is for certain, today was not a good day. I can’t deny that I am getting old. Sigh.