For those of you playing along at home, I’ve been having some problems with my left thumb. I went to see a hand surgeon in February. He diagnosed arthritis.

Yesterday, I went to see a hand therapist. This is not a general physical therapist who does hands. The only thing she does are hands.

I really liked the hand surgeon I went to see. I liked the hand therapist even better.

It was worth getting up at 530 in the morning and driving an hour into Seattle in order to have that appointment with her.

The first thing she did was to measure where I am currently. That involved stretching my hands and seeing how much flexibility I had. It also involved using a variety of different tools to measure how strong I still was.

There were two surprising things that came out of these measurements.

I know that I have lost strength in my hands. It’s very obvious to me. However one of the surprising things at least, at least for me, is that my hands are still really strong. My strength level is considered very strong for someone my age.

The other thing that was surprising, at least to the therapist, was that I have equal amount of strength in both hands. That was not surprising to me. I have always considered myself somewhat ambidextrous when it comes to doing physical labor. I can paint as equally well with my right hand as I can with my left. I can hammer nails with my left hand.

This meant that she is not giving me any hand strengthening exercises. I got that on my own.

After all the measurements, she gave me the, “Come to Jesus talk.” Basically, she hammered home than I am not 40 years old anymore. I need to be more gentle with my hands. She still wants me to do all the things I want to do. That includes doing yoga, gardening, as well as all the construction.

However, instead of doing all the things in one day, I should spread it out over 2 to 3 days. I should also consider making small changes, small adjustments, to give my hands more relief. She gave the example of changing her coffee cup. She didn’t go to a smaller coffee cup because 6 ounces of coffee weren’t going to get her through the day. So she still has the same amount of coffee. But she now has a much lighter mug.

I have already started doing some of this. I need to do more.

After the talk she fit me for new braces. She came out and said, “let me introduce you to your new best friend.” Here’s a link to the new brace.

she told me to consider this brace my workboots. I should always use this brace when I’m doing serious work with my hands.

While we were doing the measurements at the start of our meeting, she kept talking about how worried she was in terms of my right hand. Though it is my left hand that hurts, I also have signs of serious arthritis in my right. When comparing the two hands, it was obvious even to me that my right hand is much more swollen than my left. There is some shortening of the muscle of the thumb in my right hand. So she didn’t fit me for one brace, but for two. She has a very good working relationship with the hand surgeon. So she just got him to change the order for the therapy to be for two hands not for one.

Did I mention I really liked her a lot?

One of the last thing she said was one of the most heartening. She believes I am merely having a flareup. That after 2 to 3 months, I should be in a lot less pain. Until the next flareup.

If I take care of my hands, don’t push them as hard, and I wear the brace, she thinks I’ll get 10 years out of them. Before I have to have the hand surgery.

I understand that the hand surgery is probably in my future. But knowing that I might go at least 10 years without it makes me feel really good.

We talked about the dictation. “Motion is lotion.” I’ve heard more than one physical therapist say this. She doesn’t want me to completely give up the typing. It’s using my hands in a good way, as long as my desk is ergonomic.

I will continue to dictate all of the nonfiction. I’m dictating all of my blog posts, as well as my essays. I’m not sure when I’ll get to dictate in the fiction. I might try with the next short story. It’s a series character. So I already have the voice, I already have the world. But I’m not going to worry about it as much.

Yesterday, I reorganized my writing desk so that it is more economical. Both when I sit as well as when I stand. I need to do the same for the production desk.

It isn’t easy for me to not go full bore all the time. I might have reached that time of my life though, when saving my hands is more important than doing all the things in a short amount of time.