April 9, 2014

H Is For Hands

I have major problems with my hands, in that I have very little dexterity and strength in them. It wasn't always like that, but around 2007, I was experiencing issues with hand fatigue, lack of strength and lack of dexterity. After visiting a couple of doctors who specialize in muscular diseases, I was diagnosed with a neuro-muscular malady called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or CMT for short, is genetic disease characterized by the atrophying of muscles in the arms, legs, and shoulders, to name a few. There is no known cure and the best the one can hope for is to maintain the status quo for as long as humanly possible.

I am considered to be, by the doctors I used to visit (long story made short, all they did was monitor the progression on a yearly basis, which in my opinion, was a waste of money. If you can't cure me, then at least leave me to my own devices), an anomaly, in that my CMT has taken up residence in my hands. What does this mean?

For starters, while I can still type, my typing speed has dropped down to about 12 wpm, from a high of about 35 wpm back in the early 2000's. Secondly, I've always joked that a toddler has more hand strength than I do, but realistically, the heaviest thing that I can comfortable hold/carry without problems is a book. Anything heavier, like a full three ring binder, then we have a problem.

However, over the years, as my hands have slowly deteriorated, I've managed to come up with a few ingenious solutions to make life workable for me.

1} Because I can't hold a pen like normal people anymore, I've had to teach myself how to sign and write while holding a pen like a five year old does (i.e. full grip like one was holding a stick to jab into the ground). While I now sign my name with the best of them, my handwriting is incredibly atrocious, which is why I now print everything I write. Exceptionally time consuming and its something I will elaborate on later in the month.

2} I use rubber fingertips quite extensively. They have been a lifesaver as it allows me to grip everything under the sun with very little risk in dropping things. I can also type with a reasonable degree of accuracy as well.

3} I have learned how to grip things with my knuckles, which comes in handy when I have to pull files, etc. some ten to fifteen times a day.

Right now, I'm still maintaining the status quo with a reasonable degree of accuracy, but as the years progress, the bar for the status quo will become lower and lower, until finally, I'll be forced to retire before I'm ready to do so. But until then, I'll have fun mocking people who complain about the littlest inconsequential thing they can come up. Because as you know, the more money someone makes, the more they whine.

(c) 2014 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.


  1. That must be very aggravating. As for the future, I'd hold out for new bionic hands if I were you.

  2. Noticed I have pain in the back of my middle finger recently when I grip or life something. Hope I don't have what you have. Keep on keeping on

  3. We don't realise how much we use something until we don't have them - I hope your hands don't deteriorate any further.
    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe

  4. when my mother had her stroke, it depressed her to lose most of the use of her hands. I love your determination and hearing your story. You are making a difference. Thank you

  5. Debra: Aggravated doesn't even remotely begin to describe what/how I feel about my hands. Bionic? Sounds like a plausible idea.

    Bearman: I doubt it, but hopefully you don't have carpel tunnel flaring up.

    Suzanne: Thanks for stopping by.

    I'm hoping to maintain the status quo, but realistically it has been a slow gradual decline that I don't think will level off any time soon.

    Slfinnell1965: Thanks for stopping by.

    I try to work every malady to my advantage in some particular way, and I'm glad that in some small part I can make a difference.

  6. You are a tough guy, GB. (Compliment.)

  7. And thank you for writing about this. I am sorry you have to live with it but I admire your tenacity.


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