Monday, September 30, 2013


 All the signs were there so  maybe I should have seen this coming but I didn't.  

I own some  gnarly looking hands. Prime suspects to be painful but strangely they weren't--till the other day when they lived up to the look. 

My hands suggest that maybe at one time I tried to  pull a fast one on the Mob and had been worked over by some goons. Actually, they are the result of being a klutzy athlete in my early years, then as a caretaker of livestock later on. My horse and the calves beat me up the most. 

However, gnarly looking or not, they have always been quite functional and mostly pain free, my right hand being the best. This week, my good hand slipped over to the dark side. Now it feels ugly also. So far only one finger on the right hand has caved to the pressure but I fear I am on a slippery slope. I brought this on myself.

Don't know if I mentioned it before but my property came with an all concrete, 12 by 16 foot, storm shelter. That metal roof just sits over the concrete one and it was put there at a much later date to match the house roof. 

 It is mostly underground and is over 101 years old according to the date carved in the wall. It has a few troublesome cracks in the concrete so I am not confident enough to use it as a tornado hidy hole. I have pretty much ignored it. However, this year I thought it might make a decent root cellar and since I have a bounty of produce needing stored this year, I decided to spruce it up and use it. 

The walls were down right nasty looking from over 100 years of neglect. So out came the scrub brushes and cans of paint.  Since I was going for cover up and not beauty, I decided to use up some of the left over  paint I had lying around. Thus, I have a white ceiling,floor, three white walls and one blaze orange one.  Everything took 2 coats.  

OK I missed some spots, some areas were too rough or broken to accept paint, my edges are terrible and I ran out of paint during the second coat of orange, but trust me, it does look cleaner. 
All the painting, especially the ceiling over my head took its toll on my body. I've had arthritis in my back and hips for about 15 years but it has been mostly manageable. Boy did I stir up a nest of hornets with the painting. My body protested mightily. It took nightly soaks in steaming hot Epson salts baths to remain mobile. Epson salts is a miracle worker by the way. I would wake up the next day just a little sore but once again ready to go.  

The morning after my final brush stroke, I woke up to a really angry, swollen,  super achy pointy finger on my right hand from gripping the roller and brush. Since it was my least deformed finger, it took me a bit to realize that it was having an arthritic flare up. Son of a gun!!   First time ever for that part of my body. My pinky gets briefly cranky when I mow but that is really a lesser finger and easy to work around. 

Seems the index finger does much more than just point. It handles a good chunk of the computer keyboard, controls the left side of the mouse, the fast forwarding button on the remote. opens soda and dog food cans, guides a knife, works scissors,removes lids and is really handy when blowing your nose,washing your ears or wiping. Who knew??

Our opposable  thumbs may have moved us up and away from the other beasts but it could not have done that with out the index finger's help but it never gets a mention.  A very underrated digit.  

So as with all things age related, I curse-- then adapt. It is ALL better now and that next finger in line has learned some cool new stuff.  The second runner up finger is still a bit awkward but it is trying. It just needed training.

While I am at it, I probably should work on training my left arm and hand to actually do things also.  Out side of a support role, that appendage has always been pretty useless and uncoordinated. It is more or less there just for decoration and to give an allusion of symmetry. Time I put it to work for it never hurts to have backup. 

I did discover a useful tool to help the finger pain. I realized heat helps but I didn't want to be tied to a bowl of hot water. I had things to do. So I broke out a winter favorite that I keep on hand.  They are called Hot Hands and can be bought at Walmart or any hunting supply store. Most hunters or outdoor sorts all ready know about them. 

They are inexpensive, air activated, disposable hand warmers that really work. I normally use them here in Arkansas when hiking in the snow. I slip one inside my gloves and have warm hands on the coldest days. They are also a staple in my winter emergency kit that I keep in my vehicle.

These really gave my poor ole sore finger relief and actually reduced the swelling. I would wrap it around my achy knuckles or just hold it in my hand. They do make larger ones that might work even better.  I could put it down, take care of business and come back an hour or so later and the warmth would crank right back up with just a little shaking of the bag. It is quite reliable and portable. Hope this discovery might help someone with a similar problem of achy hands or maybe just cold ones come winter. 

Do you have tried and true, non-pill methods to combat or prevent arthritic flare ups or are you blessed with the supple hands of a youngster.  

PS, That cantaloupe is still hanging in the tree. 


  1. Giggle giggle...Believe it, I was thinking about your tree cantaloupe this morning and wondering if it was ripe yet.

    Those Ritis boys are the worst. They have visited me too. That is a great storm/root cellar. We had 2 of them at the farm when i was growing up. Who cares if the painting is great or if it's even painted. Better than visiting Oz.

    Hand warmers sound good to me. I've never tried them but my fingers get so cold when I shovel snow. I'll have to look into them.

  2. I have used those hand warmers on cold hikes, too. After we stop for lunch in the winter, my hands often get cold. Have you tried arnica cream? It really works for my knees. And that is a very fine looking cellar! :-)

  3. Your hidy hole is very cute. Those hand warmers are great. I have taped them to my neck in the past. What a difference a bit of heat makes.

  4. Out comes my folk remedies...just for others like us who have sore ???? Hold on because this may make you say whatthe. Castor Oil. No don't drink it. Rub it on the affected area and then apply heat. See you had half the prescription with those hand warmers. The castor oil literally leaches into your skin and gets into the joints. It will act like a lubricant and it reduces the inflammation. It also is very soothing. Also drinking that foul tasting but oh so wonderful apple cider vinegar will help desolve the calcium crytals that our bodies produce when we have arthritis. That is what causes the pain in the joints. A tablespoon a day will keep you moving like a youngster.....or at least still moving.
    GK laughs at my remedies but they work. With coconut oil, vinegar and castor oil I could be MacGyver of the older crowd. Your root cellar is great. Love the orange paint. Oma Linda

  5. Oh, dear. I am glad that you are feeling better. That was a huge, huge project you took on. I hope the vegetables appreciate your efforts and you have home grown produce throught he winter.

  6. ouch but nice to know about the hand warmers. I've seen those and wondered if they really worked! so far my old hands are hanging in there... what's funny ha? is the stiffness in my middle fingers! drive me insane. glad it's not my index fingers though.. oh, sigh... old

    Those hidey holes make me claustrophobic... just seeing the stairs down gave me the heebie jeebies. love the orange!

    wish I had your energy...

  7. I have degenerative arthritis in my neck and lower back. I tend to use ice on my neck (twice a day), just to keep it from acting up. I never knew my head could be such a heavy thing!

    I am impressed by your energy and determination. I rely so much on Roger to do the heavy lifting around here, I think I'm just letting my muscles and stamina go to waste. You have inspired me... maybe... to do something that requires some strength. Wish me luck!

  8. I'm going to try those hand warmers this winter.
    In the long run you will enjoy your 'new' cellar for years.

  9. A tree cantaloupe??? Must have missed that post. Will have to go back!!!! We just got home from a 10 day vacation to Va/Md/W Va.. Had a wonderful trip...

    So sorry to hear about your problems. I have been lucky in that I don't have very much arthritis YET. Hope I don't --since my mother never had much.... God Bless YOU.


  10. I use pills - Naproxan - to help control flareups. I stopped using it last week and my hot fingers started to flare up, so I'm back on a steady low dosage.
    My docs told me to try heat and cold - ten minutes in ice water, followed by heat. I never quite made it through the ten minutes of cold, but I used an electric heating pad for the heat.
    Your storm shelter/root cellar is pretty cool!

  11. Gosh! I wish I did have a cure. My mother-in-law had rheumatoid arthritis, but I don't recall her using anything.

    You really did an amazing job with your new root cellar. It now looks fabulous as a tornado shelter. It's the first place I'd go. Wouldn't it still be safer there than in the house? You just need a sofa in there to wait out the storm.

  12. The hand warmers work wonderfully - I used one two years ago when I smashed my finger.

  13. Oh, so sorry! I am so fortunate not to have arthritis. However my son was diagnosed at age 32 with psoriatic arthritis. Humira injections help him so much that he runs marathons! There really are no non-drug methods to clear up his kind of arthritis. I love to soak in Epsom salts too. Can't believe so many people pay so much money for "bath" salts whose main ingredient is good old Epsom.

  14. You always have the best suggestions, my dear Patti....I've never heard of these---Well, it may be because I live in a warm!
    "Arthur" is no fun, that's for sure. And I hate it when there are little flare-ups---That pain can send you to your knees.....I'm going to have to get me some of these gloves! And Thanks, my dear...Hoping there are no more flare-ups with your precious fingers! And you did a GREAT Paint Job!!!! Sore back and all!

  15. Epsom salts work wonders on sore muscles. I'm surprised your pointer was the only one who complained, though possibly more noticeable since it hasn't bothered you in the past. Your room looks nice, ready for your veggies. I like Thermacare heatwraps for my neck/shoulder area. Your handwarmers sound like something I can put to good use this winter. Thanks for sharing.

  16. It is just beginning on right (dominant) hand for me. Since I have yet to get my left hand working I hope to keep the stiffness in righty at bay. So far, a soak in hot water in the a,m. is helping.

    You are one energetic, everready bunny of a honey. You make me inspired and, I admit, a bit guilty at how little I accomplish!

  17. Good to know about the hand warmers...

  18. Manzi,
    Ha,ha and it is still hanging!!
    You know I didn't trust the old concrete enough to use it as a hidy hole but since I have painted it, somehow, it looks stronger.
    Oz scared me as a kid. You are right, I don't want to go there:))

    I just bought some Arnica. Figured if it kept your knees loose after leaping out of planes and hiking mountains, it had to be good. Thanks.

    Ooh, wish I had thought about the neck thing after painting the ceiling. Good idea. Thanks for the tip.

    Linda W.
    Who knew castor oil worked on the outside? I will definitely give it a try next time. I'll try the Bragg vinegar again. The taste--even diluted--drove me away last time. Thank you.

    I have such a tiny house that there was just no place to store this years crop of sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I just hope it keeps them fresh.

    Trust me, I had to push hard to get er done. It sure wasn't natural energy, just too cheap to pay someone to do it for me.:))

    I do wish you luck but beware, it does hurt and if I had a Roger type around, I'd just use the rascal and let my job be the tea bringer and back massager.

    Think you will enjoy them.
    I hope so. I am just a little bummed that I waited so long to put it to use.

    Can't wait to hear about your trip and see all the pictures. You and George sure do retirement right.
    Wonderful that you don't have any joint problems. Being active and getting the weight off are smart moves.

    Linda R
    I tried Naproxan a few years ago but it didn't help me for some reason. Know what you mean about icing. That hurts. I do use a heating pad for my back.

    Thought about a couch but it would never make it down the stairs. However,I may put a cot down there.
    Funny, since I've painted , it appears more sturdy to me. We will see what I do come tornado season.

    Good to learn of another Hot Hands user. They really are helpful aren't they?

    Isn't that what that golfer, Phil Mickelson, also has? How wonderful there is something to help the young people that have that remain active.

    Ha,ha Oddly I started using them when I lived in Florida. Forty degrees there in winter makes whimpering babies of us natives. Thanks, I am just really glad the job is done.

    I have been really close to getting those Thermacare heatwraps for my back. Good to know they work.

    Heat really is helpful isn't it? Hay, You have set the bar really high for accomplishment. Don't undersell yourself. You amaze me.

    Weekend windup,
    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I checked your blog and it is very interesting.

  19. Dear Arkansas Patti, thanks for the update on the cantaloupe. It's going to be so tasty when you eat it.

    As to arthritis, I seldom have a flair-up and when that happens it's mostly in my right thumb. I do have a real knob on my right index finger however.

    Just by way of finding some good here, let me say that by learning to use your left hand and fingers more, you will be branching the dendrites in your brain. More branched dendrites means that if you ever had a stroke, you'd have overlapping dendrites and while some might die, others would live so you could recuperate much faster. Also more branched dendrites help avoid Alzeheimer's. Peace.

  20. You have been working too hard, Patti! Will you please take care of yourself!?
    Those handwarmers look great. I think I can do with some of them as well, for me or my sisters.
    Thanks for your visit. I had to look up "grading on the curve",but this is too complicated for me. I am not familiar with this type of grading. In the course of the week I shall give the solution of the quiz.
    Take, care!
    Wil, ABCW Team

  21. Thank you Patti for explaining what grading on the curve is. You did it better than wikipedia. Well our highest mark is 10.
    Ten is perfect, without any mistakes.
    Nine is excellent
    Eight is very good
    Seven is good
    Six is sufficient
    Five is not sufficient
    Four is bad
    And the other marks are getting worse and worse. We never did the curve grading at school.

  22. I don't even remember when my hands were supple. I just put up with the pain for the most part and try to ignore it for the rest. My grandmother always swore by a tablespoon of fruit pectin in juice every morning and I'm thinking of buying a jar of pectin next time I'm at the store...

  23. You have a great tornado shelter there. Sorry for the arthritis.


  24. Oh, sweet Patti I am so sorry to hear of the arthritis flare-up. You did a great job painting it looks nice! Cantaloupe is still hanging in the tree, amazing! I wonder if those pads would be large enough for me to use on my shoulders and/or feet. I am glad you shared about them because I will get some for my hands when my thumbs and fingers give me grief. Thank you for the information. Sure hope you have no more real painful flare-ups. Hugs for you and hugs and nose kisses for sweet Mighty and sweet Minnie

  25. Dee,
    You make a great point about the benefits of working on my non-dominate side. You inspired me to get serious so I switched my mouse to the left side. It is taking a lot of thought to get use to it.

    Reader Wil,
    The standard saying here is that if the teacher is good and presents the material in an easy to understand manner, there is no need to grade on the curve. If the whole class does poorly, it is probably the teacher at fault.
    Thanks, while I didn't pass with flying colors, evidently I managed "sufficient." I can live with that. Hope you do more of these. That was fun.

    Hay, I will try anything and a little pectin is not a big investment. Thanks.

    Editors at work,
    Thank you so much for stopping by TNS and commenting. I will check your blog.

    They do make them for the body so they would probably work and would be cheaper than the Thermacare heatwraps. However, like islandwonder suggested, you have to tape them in place.

  26. Curse and adapt.... Mmmmmm. I think I've unknowingly adopted that same procedure for my own achy joints...;)

  27. Just found your blog - travelled over from Ginnie on unLimiters...
    Now I will have to look for those hand-warmers.
    Wish we could have a shelter like that here, but at only 35 feet above sea-level, it would be a swimming pool.
    A comment (from unLimiters)- the battery powered weed eater (B&D) tho pretty good, is still not that great if the weeds/grass gets too thick... then I switch to the one that uses electricity and drag a cord around. Don't like the cord much but it does a superior job. However, I have over 2 acres cleared around the house and planted with camellias, azaleas, and what-not, and that is too much cord to drag around. But try the B&D, it should work.

  28. To have a root cellar / aka. storm shelter that old and still in that kind of shape - WOW! Great job on painting it. RATS though to the arthritis flare up from it. I hope you're feeling better now.

  29. Oh how can you resist cutting that melon open?!! That sounds so good right now. It's been so hot and muggy the last two days. I hear 42 for Sunday night low though- YAY!
    Your hidey hole looks marvelous to me. I am a wee bit jealous because I have always wanted one.
    I hope your fingers relax a bit- arthur is a pain in the ..well you know.

  30. Cantaloupe grows on trees? Hmmmm...learned something - it must be new variety.
    I guess I should say something nice to you, just so you will feel better…are you ready? Your hand looks just like my ninety year old mother’s hand. That said, her hands are the most beautiful set of hands I’ve known – well that is except for my wife’s. Are you feeling better yet? Just so you know I can feel your pain at this very moment, yesterday I had carpel surgery on my right hand and not using it made putting my pants on this morning quite the experience. Well gotta go – not sure where.
    Hang in there!!

  31. You asked if we had "non pill" remedies and I don't fit that category but I would like to tell you what I did about 18 years ago. One of the doctors at the ER where I worked swore by glucosamine and I started taking it and have never quit. I can honestly say that my hands have become gnarled and ugly but I have NEVER had pain !!
    Also, would you mind if I used your suggestion about "Hot Hands" as an UNlimiters blog entry? I'll give you credit for the idea.

  32. Ouch!!! I'm so impressed by the work you did. You are amazing. Really, you are. I haven't used a paint brush in years. I know my hands would flare up and hate me if I tried to paint. I have a lot of neck, shoulder, arm, and hand problems. I've received not one, but two, full disabilities on right upper extremity. Yup. That has sidelined me from even thinking I could paint walls or ceilings.

    Clever use of the hand warmers. I think I'll get some to keep in the car. That is a good idea.

  33. I must tell my mum about the warmers because she suffers from a really bad back, and uses hot water bottles that burn her skin!

    I don't have any remedies but I hope your fingers get better very soon. Do you ever stop working!!

  34. TB,
    There just aren't many other choices, if we want to keep our sanity, are there?

    Welcome to TNS. So glad you made the trip and I appreciate the info on the B&D. I was afraid they might be weak also.

    Good to hear from you again. I can only say that if I had paid for that paint job, I'd have been ticked off.

    Don't be too envious. The door is really wimpy and would not hold up to a good sneeze. I really need to get that fixed before I use it for real.

    Well maybe. I do have old looking hands but if they are OK in your eyes, that will do.
    Hope you get the use back with your hand. Funny how simple things become such a chore when we lose the use of our hands. I'm sure your wife with the pretty hands is taking up the slack. Enjoy the pampering.

    I sent you an email to answer this.

    Ouch, that has to be miserable. Thank goodness you have Jim handy.
    If you ever get stranded in a car in the cold, they could be the difference between comfort and misery. Enjoy.

    LLCool Joe,
    Sadly, I don't see lack of work anywhere on the horizon but maybe that is a good thing.
    Think she will like them Joey. Get her the large ones. They are hot enough for comfort but not to burn.

  35. I have to agree with Ginnie about the Glucozamine. Our product is called "Osteoeeze" and it helped me fantastically with sore hips. Not sore any more. My hands are all gnarly, but don't hurt unless my husband squeezes on a joint. I'm just glad I can still do most things and that computer keyboards respond to the lightest touch.

  36. I use Hot Hands when I ski. The older I get, the less my fingers can take the cold. I also use Arnica gel for muscle pain or bruising - works wonders. Not good to take too many over-the-counter NSAID's for pain, so choosing a more "natural" remedy is always best. Curcumin in capsule form is very good for inflammation and pain. I do take it nightly because inflammation is not good for the heart. I've been thinking about you and Mighty, Patti - may I just disagree with your thinking about not getting another pet. The love you have to give would be so beneficial to an animal that needs a good home - you would benefit and so would the animal. None of us knows when our time will come, but if we have some advance notice, we can always make arrangements for the care of loved ones, including pets. Hugs to you from CO.