Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Becoming a Chessmaster*

*Nothing to do with the board game, by the way.

In order to conduct my life these days, I have had to call upon whatever executive skills I have -- and even those I didn't realize I did.

Life is always chock-full of inconvenient occurrences. Right now,there's the pool of water on the utility room floor, most likely from a leak in the refrigerator filtration...the pharmaceutical refills...a mother who has decided she DOESN'T WANT ME to do necessary care for her this morning...the work-related deadlines and paperwork facing me this morning...all to be dealt with before my knee surgery tomorrow.

Whatever. One thing at a time.

All the while, there are these slow, subtle changes in my health. I've already written plenty about my knee injury. When I went to the orthopedic surgeon on April 22nd, he used a detailed wall chart to point out to me what was injured, how it probably occurred, and how he was going to go in and fix it. I felt like I was in a medical school lecture hall. Fascinating...but just being given (for me) what was "TMI" made my knee throb.

And hands. I recently posted my layperson's opinion that my left hand's ache has been due to my improper grip of The Cane. Then, in some private moments of honesty, I have had to acknowledge that more might be going on here.

For about a couple of months "pre-knee," I've noticed pronounced swelling, stiffness, and warmth on my right index finger. While reading the Arthritis Foundation's website,, I saw the word "sausage." OMG, my finger looks just like that! Then, taking a swallow, I looked more closely at my left hand, and admitted that the top of the knuckles are beginning to puff, too, even with my ergonomically-correct cane grip.

Gripping a pen, with right index finger extended stiffly out, is so awkward. Typing on this keyboard, ditto. Trying to tend to my mother is getting more difficult. And the list of impositions goes on...

Let me clearly say here, I'm not qualified to diagnose arthritis, even in myself. This is a conversation I need to have with my doctor, and the sooner the better.

Going back to the chessmaster metaphor, I find myself going into strategy mode. How can I cope with this, if indeed it is the onset of arthritis? I've begun reading articles, online and in print, many of which include the word "fight." Line up my game pieces, survey the other side's moves, proceed aggressively but thoughtfully...

One idea that comes to mind is to investigate any treatment clinical trials that might be available. In addition to making any interventions affordable, I'd be honored to contribute to the necessary research for prevention, treatment, and eventual cures of arthritis. Education. Treatment compliance. Cooperation with my doctor.

All designed to gear up for a successful battle for a good quality of life.

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