Arthritis in Your Twenties

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It’s hard to feel hip and sexy at twenty-four when you have arthritis and winter is coming. Winter means aches and pains. It means my hands are going to lock up and I won’t be able to make a fist until March. My right hand is by far the most arthritic part of my body. In winter, I cannot make a fist and even in summer, I’m lucky if all my fingers close. In fact, when I first tell people I have arthritis and can tell they don’t believe me, this is how I show them. I close my right hand into a fist very slowly. Most of my fingers do not bend at the middle knuckle until I almost have closed my hand and then they make a weak looking fist. This often has the effect of surprising people, because it becomes very clear that my hand is almost deformed looking. This is why my boyfriend and I call my right hand my “Weenie hand.” When we hold hands and we’re walking, I’ll often changed positions until my poor little hand can become comfortable. He will then usually say, “Oops, the ‘weenie hand’.” and adjust his grip on it until I stop fussing.

He is also the first person I’ve dated that I’ve told openly about my arthritis. Based on the above description of my right hand and its capabilities, you might find this hard to believe, but I’m pretty good at hiding it and adjusting so that I can do things without showing my disability. Even though I’m only twenty-four, I’ve still had it for more then half of my life at this point.

In fact, he was the first to give me hand massages after my mom. Often my hands will ache and they’ll start to bother me. I wash my hands constantly during the day, not because I’m a germ-a-phobe but because warm water feels good on my hands and makes them move better. And by the day’s end, I’ll be in bed ready to go to sleep and he will get out the lotion while I’ll put on old Simpsons episodes and he’ll rub circulation back into my fingers. If he’s especially tired, I usually just have him do the Weenie hand because it needs it more. Either way, it’s one of the most caring things that anyone has ever done for me. I cried the first time because I had to show my weakness and be open about my disability, but mainly because he was so sweet and gentle with me.


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