Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fingers - and onto elephants............

You may remember me telling you a little while ago that I used to have beautiful long fingernails which I took great delight in keeping manicured and varnished.

I suppose I am a little sad that the arthritis I suffer from in my fine joints has turned my hands into something you might be more likely to see dipping an apple into a cauldron of poison in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

However the thing about my misshapen fingers that annoys me, more than how they look, is the pain I suffer from them quite a lot of the time. I would be devastated if it deteriorated to the point where it affected my stitching.

So much so, that this week I decided to return to my doctor to see if there was anything else they might recommend.

It was a very interesting conversation.

I had previously thought the pain was caused by using them too much doing handwork - all that stitching!

However as we chatted she pointed out that the pain wasn't actually from too much movement, more from too little - inactivity and them seizing up.

As I thought about what she'd said I realised she had a very good point. After all when we're stitching either by machine or by hand we really don't actually move our joints to any great extent - rather we grip our work and the needle and hold our hands fairly rigid in one particular position. Multiply this rigid state by several hours a day (if we're lucky to be able to get that much stitching in) is it any wonder the joints whinge and complain?

So, her solution was, rather than stitching all the time thereby keeping the joints rigid, instead, using something like a stress ball or a dog's soft ball, repeatedly work the joints at regular intervals to keep them supple and aid their movement, hence reducing the inflammation and pain

So far I've not remembered to try and source a stress ball so, when my youngest came down from tidying her bedroom with this wonderful red lip shaped cushion filled with those miniscule polystyrene beads (about a pen tip size each), I realised it would be an excellent substitute. It offers just the right amount of resistance when squidged.

Here's Sarah doing a passable impersonation of a certain Mr Jagger of Rolling Stones fame with the cushion in question

I've been having a jolly good squidge of it at regular intervals throughout today and strangely enough my fingers feel a little better already

I suppose it stands to reason - if you have a stiff hip which gives you great pain on getting up after being sat for a long while, but then as you walk around loosens up and becomes less painful - why shouldn't the same apply to your fingers

So the moral of the story is - if you too have sore joints, try giving them a little bit of regular exercise against something with some resistance and see if it improves them.

In amongst all that squidging I have got some quantity of stitching done today

Here it is - my white elephant cover.............

I've machine quilted in the ditch around the purple star components and then echo quilted all the stitchery - you can probably get a vague idea from this picture but the lighting isn't great.

Of course all I have to do now is clear the pile of junk from the top of the aforesaid elephant to be able to put it into use...

I guess that's on the list for the morning!

20 comments:

Doodlebug Gail said...

Anne - that is one gorgeous table runner! And because of you and a lot of other Bloggers I have picked up a needle and thread and started practising basic stitches.

Sorry to hear that you're in pain - I'm glad though, that it is manageable.

meggie said...

I love that table runner. Hope the fingers stay pain free!

Kim said...

Your white elephant cover turned out great! Sorry about the arthritis though. I have one joint in my finger that bothers me but it's been better since I started wearing a copper bracelet--and I'm not one to believe in that kind of thing but I thought what the heck? The bracelet's pretty, so even if it doesn't work on the arthritis, I won't have lost anything! LOL! My mom, who also has arthritis in her hands, was just mentioning to me today how she squeeze a ball and it helps a great deal. So, yes, it makes complete sense and I hope it works for you so we can continue to see your beautiful stitchery and quilting!

Dawn said...

Your elephant cover is absolutely beautiful! And I did have a great laugh at your dd with the lips! I"m so glad that maybe you have a solution to your fingers. I hope it helps and am so glad that maybe it isn't something more serious.

atet said...

Oh, your white elephant cover is lovely. Cleaning -- what a reward for such fantastic work ;0).

You kow, it makes sense that exercising the joints would help. My mother has arthritis in her back and one of her "treatments" is to get up and stretch and move every hour. Maybe as a reminder to yourself while you are stitching away, squeze the pillow every time or two you need to re-thread. Or at the machine -- every 1/2 hour or so. Could work!

Anne said...

Your white elephant cover turned out beautiful! Love the stitchery you chose to do on it, and it really compliments the plaid - rigid lines and soft stitching.

I'll try remember getting those fingers exersised! Hope yours stay pain free!

May Britt said...

You got a wise doctor. I have always replyed to people that tells me to put away my sewing and rest my hands; I'm excercising. If we do not move our hand they will get stiff. So keep on using your hands.

Your table runner is georgius. Love the colours in it. So what's the next stitcing project :)

Jane Weston said...

It absolutely beautiful!
I like your idea of squelching a pillow for exercise...you could easily do that while reading blogs.

Fiona said...

Fabulous table runner - such pretty colours. My nan had terrible arthritis but she always sewed or crocheted regardless.

gwen said...

Congratulations on your white elephant. I hope the solution you found for your fingers will help you. Take care.

Andrea said...

That is really pretty - as usual you amaze me with the speed you do things !! I know how arthritis can affect people. My mum has it bad and some days she can't even turn on a tap ! I have twinges occasionally and I know it runs in families !! I tell my DH if I get it there are worse things ! Looking forward to seeing your next project !

Karol-Ann said...

Lovely! The quilting 'shadow' around the stitching looks superb - very clever. Sorry about the fingers - I believe it will be my fate too, so thanks for the good advice!

Tonya R said...

hmm, never thought about the pain being from not using my hands/fingers enough. I'll look into a squeeze ball myself - thanks for the advice.

Bird on a wire said...

We must look after everything we need to sew. I do hope your hands get less painful,
Sally

Katie said...

Can you buy hot wax baths where you are? First the physical therapists used them and now you can buy small ones to use at home. I've seen them at WalMart. It looks like an electric roaster - about a foot long. It comes with wax that you melt in it and then dip your fingers in and out. Then I wrap a plastic bag and towel around to keep the heat in. I find this to give the best relaxing for tired finger joints. Also, really love your work on the table runner.

Tanya said...

That is a work of art! I can imagine someday your grandchildren are going to be fighting over who gets it!
Didn't realize you had so many trials with your fingers. You seem to be working through it so positively. I have a friend with arthritis in various joints and she runs from one doctor to another and one miracle amulet to the next...
I'll tell her about stress balls.

Finn said...

Hi Anne,so sorry about the joints..actually your hands don't look bad at all, but then I love hands with character..*VBS*
Glad the flexing may just do the trick. I have to stop every so often whether quilting or crocheting and let my hands 'rest'...they stiffen up some, and eventually hurt. Everything takes longer, but I've got time.
Fun fabric you won and also could buy...good bargins that! Keep smiling my zany friend, Hugs, Finn

Linda said...

Dear Anne, I enjoy reading your family stories and seeing your beautiful quilting and stitchery. I would not have guessed that you are troubled with arthritis! You were so wise to get the medical advice. Sometimes the docs don't offer it unless pressed. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing her advice. I started immediately with it. I would so love to get back to hand needlework. It would be a nice change with the machine quilting.
Blessings,
Linda

Libby said...

I like the thoughts on arthritis pain and how to avoid some of it . . . I will surey take it to heart. Your runner is gorgeous.

Patti said...

I have a suggestion for you Anne - this is what has worked so well for me. Get a copper ring for each finger that has a painful joint. Our financial planner is also a quilter, and when I mentioned to her than I had trouble hand quilting any more she showed me the copper rings she wore. I'd never noticed them before. She said to get one for every finger that hurt. They took away her pain and stopped the progression of the deformity of the joints. I took her suggestion, buying several rings from a local crafter for $2 each. At that time my thumb joints were especially bad, and there was quite a bit of deformity in them - particularly on my left hand. That was 4 or 5 years ago. She was right - the pain stopped almost immediately as soon as I put on the rings. And the deformity in the fingers has not gotten any worse. I now wear one on my left thumb and the thumb and first two fingers of my right hand. There is still a little pain when it gets really, really cold in the winter, but that's all. I asked both my chiropractor and my orthopedic surgeon about them - they both said no one knows for sure why it works, they just know that it does.