As a nursing student, I learned all about the unbelievably complicated physiology involved in every simple movement we make. Truly fascinating stuff. In classic Debi fashion, though, I’ve now totally forgotten pretty much every bit of it. I just remember that there are tiny little chemical reactions going on somewhere in us that stimulate all those stimulators that keep us perpetually stimulated. Easy.
What I did hold onto, though, is that all of the many joints that lend us movement can really just be very neatly tucked into two simple categories: they either help you “go”, or they help you “do”.
Or they should, anyways.
Lupus has taught me at different times the importance of each of these joint types. Some days it’s my hips, knees, ankles, or feet that groan. Bending is painful. Every step is a struggle, but I can muscle through. And … even though I may “go” slower on these days, I’m still able to “do” when I finally get there.
Somehow this ability helps me be just a little more accepting of these limitations. As long as I can “do”, everything’s okay.
Well, guess what? Now even my “do” is really being messed with.
I was actually told two years ago that the inflammation of my Lupus has caused permanent damage to the ligaments in my wrists. Instead of tightly holding all those cute little bones in place like they should, these ligaments are now like loose, floppy rubber bands that don’t do much of anything. Essentially, this has sent my cute little wrist bones into a state of being chronically out of whack.
Needless to say, this can be painful. And quite limiting.
The specialists discussed the pros and cons of ligament reconstruction with me at the time, but we all decided that, in my case, the benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks, so I’ve just adjusted how I do things, and learned to live with it.
At first I wore stiff braces on both hands all the time to help control the pain, but over time, I’ve been able to wean that down to only wearing one on my left hand (the more severely damaged) and mostly only at the hospital. This has worked well enough for quite some time.
I’ve written before about the maddening randomness of my boogeyman. I never know which part of my body Lupus is silently scheming against, and I never know when it’s going to sneak up and just scream “boo”. I just try to go around living my life and forget about it, until it won’t let me anymore.
Well, the last few weeks it’s obviously had my wrists in its crosshairs again. And, believe me … I hear the “boo” loud and clear. And my “do” is really suffering because of it. Wow, has this given me a new respect for the value of healthy wrists and nimble fingers.
Try putting on exam gloves with bad wrists. Even if you use the largest ones, your wrist still has to hold tension against the gloves to get them on. And off. Try doing that countless times in a shift. Even more fun … get them on in absolute sterile technique with those stiff fingers, as well.
Or try opening heavy doors … driving … writing … sweeping the floor … unloading the dishwasher … blow-drying your hair … scratching your back … putting your purse on your shoulder. All painful right now. And all just this morning.
So, obviously my precious “do” functions have taken a few steps backwards lately. There’s not a whole lot your hands can accomplish in this painful state, so they’ve been kept braced and as idle as possible in the hope of healing back up to their baseline function of two weeks ago. Please, Lord.
But, the reason why I’m even sharing about this is because of something wonderful that I’ve realized has come out of it:
I hate wearing these braces out in public because they’re ugly, clunky, and they draw attention to my not normalness. Everywhere I go, people always ask me about them. Most assume I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and I usually just answer back with a quick, little snark about how I’m just falling apart and the braces are all that’s holding me together. Most just chuckle and move on after that.
Sometimes, though, there are those who press me for more. If time, circumstances, and my energy level allow, I will tell them exactly why I wear the braces. Not because I want them to feel sorry for me (I really hate that), but because I’ve learned that many times the people who are most interested in my struggles, are also silently struggling somehow, as well. They’re seeking a fellow sojourner in the struggles of life. Many times when I share, they will open up, as well.
This happened to me twice just yesterday. I’m now praying for two people who I had no idea were struggling, and they’re now praying for me, as well.
How beautiful is that? Two divine appointments happened simply because I wore those ugly, clunky braces out of the house. How gracious is our God to pour out His lovely over my ugly clunkiness like that? Be encouraged, my friends. His hands are still busy making things indescribably beautiful … even when ours can’t be.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
I’ve had this song by JJ Heller on repeat this afternoon. I’m so thankful for this reminder that no matter what, we never, ever leave His hands. Take a moment to stop, close your eyes, and be reminded, too.
“You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:28-29)