A Visit from Arthur
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— A strange man recently appeared in my life. His name was Arthur and he wanted to live with me. I didn’t want anything to do with him but he moved in anyway.
At first I thought he was just staying for a short visit. I explained to him I was perfectly happy with the way things were and I really didn’t want him hanging about, but he would hear no more of it. He stayed on anyway.
What’s a woman to do? I guess he couldn’t resist me. I’ve tried every trick in the book to get rid of him but nothing works.
I first heard about Arthur from my doctor. “What’s wrong with my fingers on my right hand?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s Arthur coming for a visit,” he replied with a smile. Beware of smiling doctors. “If you’re lucky,” he added, “he’ll come and go, Mary.”
He was referring to arthritis. I’ve heard over the years this condition causes great suffering to seniors. But wasn’t I much too young to have it? Then I remembered Mother had suffered with arthritis as she had aged. Could the very same thing be happening to me?
I “googled” arthritis and learned it’s an inflammation of the joints that happens as we grow older. There are over 100 different types of the condition. They all involve the breakdown of cartilage, which protects joints and allows them to move smoothly. It causes pain that some claim is affected by change of weather.
Soon I noticed I couldn’t grab hold of things like before or lift packages with my right hand. I started saying things to the checkout clerk at Urbanna Market like . . . “Could you help me lift this package?”
They always came to my assistance but I felt silly asking for help. I had never needed any help before.
Then I couldn’t pour tea; the teapot was too heavy. Or squeeze hand lotion out of a bottle, chop celery, slice onions or even open a jar of mayonnaise. Living with Arthur got to be ridiculous.
When I told the doctor of growing pain in my right hand he trussed me up in a funny-looking contraption that looked like a white cast for my right hand, except it had a piece of steel running up its spine. It fastened with Velcro in four places and was to be worn at all times. The problem was I couldn’t piece together the intricate ties with my left hand, and always had to chase down someone to help me put it on.
It looked so foolish. All trussed up in the rig, I felt like someone who had just been in a skiing accident and taken a tumble all the way down the slope. Worse, I felt as stylish as Frankenstein’s sister. While wearing it, I couldn’t do anything— type, open mail, sign my name, brush my teeth, pet the dogs—it was hopeless. The splint ended up in the circular file.
There’s only one thing to do as one grows older . . . accept problems that come with age, make the best of things, and stay grateful for any blessings one can still enjoy (I can still use my left hand!) and, most importantly, keep a sense of humor and turn troubles into laughter. Maybe I can laugh Arthur right out of town.
Still, if we have to entertain Arthur, why couldn’t we do it at some other location besides our right hand? He must have known I’m right-handed. Why couldn’t he have settled in my left hand or lodge in my elbow, or heel, or maybe a toe? I wouldn’t mind in the least if he stayed in my toe.
And a right hand of a writer no less! How am I supposed to write without my right hand? How can I type on the keyboard with only one hand?
Maybe technology will come to my rescue. There is probably already a computer that one can speak to that will automatically type words. Maybe one day I can find equipment I can attach to my brain that will type words that I merely think into and it will automatically spit out the complete story.
The treatment of arthritis includes loss of weight, (are all health problems related to excess weight?), a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and vitamin E, low impact exercise, and stress reduction. Aspirin, and heat or cold compresses also can help relieve pain.
Have you met Arthur? I sincerely hope not, but for those who have my doctor tells me if all else fails, a shot of cortisone can help if pain becomes unbearable. Good news because from what I already know of this man’s visit . . . I can’t wait to send him packing.