Friday, March 8, 2019

Chicken Dinner with giblets in Hand-Hell

blue fingers with ulcers in front of bag of raw, whole, chicken with giblets
I was excited to have a friend from my dad's days teaching at the law school joining us for dinner, so it seemed festive to roast a small chicken with a few potatoes. And it was nice - in theory, and practice a successful meal, but the preparation was an afternoon in Hand-Hell.

The chicken I buy usually come with their innards packaged in a small paper bag in the chest cavity. I discovered this handsome 5lb bird came still partially frozen (blue fingers!) with all the entrails lodged icily inside the bird, requiring fingertip raking to remove the nasty bits.

My fingers went numb, the blue and white crepe paper flesh looking cadavery and utterly unappetizing. Hopefully the company will think the healthy gal cooked - the one that comes in the afternoons to help with dad. Who wants to eat a meal prepared by fingers that look like this?

Gloves. They help for a while, but latex and any rubberized material where the skin can't breathe - well, it gets ugly. The flesh waterlogs and falls off, making the situation even worse. Cotton 'manicure' gloves are my 'go-to', but it isn't sanitary to handle raw chicken with them. Because eeeeewww.

Would you care to join us for dinner... in Hand-HEll? You're cooking!

(C) 2019 Hand-Hell

Friday, March 1, 2019

Why don't you stay home and wear oven mitts?

Yesterday, I roared in pain getting an item out of my purse while we were driving to the store. It was a quiet day with snow covering the Seattle streets, we didn't have music playing so my scream scared my sweetie and the little dog.

"Why don't you just stay home and wear oven mitts?" he suggested, halfway seriously. My sweetie is a saint of a tolerant man and I am grateful he tolerates my long winters.

If I could stay home, I would. But as 'women of a certain age' will understand, I am responsible for the care of others. My 83 year old father had a massive hemorrhage years ago, I moved in to care for him when my mother died three years ago. He dresses and showers on his own, but I am entirely responsible for meals/finances/medication, pretty much everything. Help comes part-time during the week, but she has been on hiatus for two weeks for personal reasons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sewing Time! a tender moment waiting to go sideways in Hand-Hell.

Hand with open sores on fingertips in front of sewing basket
Sewing Time? In Hand-HELL maybe!
Normally I welcome the opportunity to break out my old sewing basket and make a small repair. Fixing a missing button or torn edge is a simple way to extend the usable life of an object for myself or a loved one. A mundane yet tender activity, taken for granted until... your fingertips fall off and open sores linger in their absence. Domestic bliss morphs into HELL when firey pain interjects sharp jolts of rage into the protracted, frustrating charade of a once simple task. 

Sewing is particularly nostalgic since I inherited my mum's old sewing chest. This was the box she whipped out in my childhood to mend treasured objects like my comfort blanket, blankie-boo-boo. 

I collect sewing notions at shops like Daiso, the Japanese dollar store. It is satisfying to have the right tool when needed. During one winter without fingertips I fought and lost a battle with a loose drawstring duct-taped to a pencil, so I appreciate stuff like the thingie for threading lost draw-strings through lounging pants. Sometimes nothing helps, but the right tool can make life easier for those of us in hand-hell.
Daiso sewing notions with hand-hell autoimmune fingers in front

Work-arounds are nice, but I would love to solve my problem once and forever. I'm having fantasies about summertime and the possibilities of my fingers healing over in the heat that will surely come. But, as surely as the wheel follows the ox that pulls the cart, winter will come and my fingers will tingle, crust and the fingertips will just fall off.

Today I darned the edge of a hole my sweetie burned in a favorite sweater. I used yard and a big fat needle, only hurting myself and cursing out loud once. It was more of a simple bark, not a chain of profanity which comes from worse damage.

So there you have it, daily indignity #3, sewing time!

(C)2019 Hand-Hell Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Yogurt Hand-Hell

yogurt in hand-hell
For breakfast in Hand-Hell, we serve yogurt
Yogurt for breakfast? My favorite, particularly the real full-fat stuff. Ellenos Greek style is my personal favorite, it is not low-calorie or low-fat and it is delicious. Yogurt requires a spoon to eat, or a smoothie must be made (think buttons on blender). So, a spoon it is, every morning.

It usually goes without incident. I manage to take off the outer plastic cap, the foil lid (lick it clean) and then I manage to stir the yogurt. My favorite spoon doesn't reach the bottom easily, so I eat about 1/3 and stir again.

I manage, but it is significantly more difficult to eat without fingertips. On the upside, this has probably contributed to my recent weight loss, which has been intentional and the result of reducing calories and increasing exercise. Les weight to lug around is helpful for my joints and for the sores on my feet, which are not as bad as the ones on my hands.

Does anybody out there have strategies for managing to eat when your hand problems flare up? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, February 18, 2019

2014 Blast from the Past - and a Wintertime Insight!

I found this photo from about five years ago in Richmond, Virginia. It was sandwiched between photos of snow flurries outside and different land-lording projects requiring vigorous hand abuse. 
Raynauds, distal ulcers in SLE (lupus) patient from Hand-Hell blog
Hello, Friend, from Hand-Hell!

Trolling through hand photos on my camera roll gave me a critical insight to my problems. Virtually all the photos of bad fingers are from the winter months. I live about half way between the equator and the north pole, so the worst of it is December-February but the season varies and can extend. Extended cold weather, coupled with manual trauma, leads to finger damage that does not heal for months. 

Summer time flare-ups were much worse when I lived in the American South, where air conditioning is ubiquitous. The jarring contrast from warm, humid, outdoor air to the frigid, ionized interiors was a trigger for my fingers to turn blue. Now I live in the temperate Pacific Northwest, where mild summers minimize my air conditioning exposure. During the heat of summer, we dine outdoors on our patio and stay comfortable without AC. 

The insight isn't that the cold weather is bad for my fingers. No kidding. The insight is that my fingers do clear up long enough, and consistently enough for me to stop photographing them for months at a time, and it's always during the summer!

Wow - this effort is already reaping benefits. If I ever fix my wretched hands, I'll do what I can to share the way with others.

(C)2019 Hand-Hell

Friday, February 15, 2019

Hand Hell - buttons to push banking at the ATM

Greetings, Readers!
button pushing hurts ulcerated fingers so banking at ATM sucks
Welcome to Hand-Hell daily indignity #4, a trip to the ATM. I am thankful to be in a situation where we deposit more money in the bank than we withdraw, so we have an ample emergency cushion.

The pain when visiting the ATM is the literal pain of having to push the buttons with ulcerated fingertips. Yes, it is true that only 8 out of 10 fingers are ulcerated right now. However, without a good thumb, having a good pinky and ring finger are only a start.

Before getting to pressing buttons, the ATM card has to be wrested from its position slid snugly in the wallet. All of which has to be drawn out of a purse (zippers!) while sketchy tweakers linger down the block.

The best option is to bend the finger and use the knuckle side to press the buttons. This tried-and-true workaround gets easier with practice and works on touch screen surfaces too!

Just imagine going through all this to discover an overdrawn account or other bummer. Ugh.

(C)2019 Hand-Hell

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hand-Hell - Another daily indignity, the dreaded scissors

Greetings, Readers,
hand hell - photo of lupus patient with finger tip ulcers using scissors with difficulty
Ah, scissors. When they work well, they make their task a joy to perform, as long as you have fingertips! I'm right handed, but it is easy to switch to left handed for most tasks, but that's not the case for scissors. Scissors are chiral - 'handed', so it's hard to use my regular scissors as left handed ones.

I have arthritis, and it hurts a tad when using scissors to cut something hearty, say a thick fabric like velvet.

A touch of arthritis is a gentle reminder of graceful aging. Hitting the sweet spot on an open ulcer right on a raw nerve delivers a searing come-to-jesus pain, difficult to understand unless you are close enough to hear the banshee scream it elicits.

The blessing of the thick crusty areas which form around the areas fully lacking the epidermis (that's 5 full layers gone, down to the dermis) is protection. Crusty bits keep the tender bits from hurting, until it doesn't any more and it just hurts like holy hell.

Somehow, I feel a little better by having this place to complain. Does anybody hate the scissors like I do? I'd love to hear some scissor-hating stories from fellow denizens in Hand-Hell.

(c) Hand-Hell Blog