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August 4, 2010

I love the song in this Delta faucet commercial:

Mom’s hands are fascinating, in a way.  They’re curled by the ravages of RA. Think of your hands holding  a mug: not gripping the body of the mug, but your fingers curled around the handle. That’s the position Mom’s hands are in. She can open them wider, and grip closer, but only with effort. Her pinkies both stay bent into odd positions.

Several years ago, she had the knuckles in one hand replaced, in the hopes of correcting them. For whatever reason, it didn’t work. Her hands had diapered, patted, soothed and, at times, swatted seven children, and then grandchildren. Now, her cane slips into the opening made by her semi-clenched fist. Washing her hands as thoroughly as had been normal is a thing of the past. When I was younger, I would sit next to her in church and play with her hands, tracing along fingers to her nails, bending them, riding the ridges of her veins, twining my pinky with hers. Now when I sit next to her in church, I again trace her fingers, but this time more gingerly, and slip one or two fingers into the small opening formed by her bent fingers.

I ordered Mom a couple of things to hopefully make every day life easier. Whether she’ll use them or not is another matter. My mother is obstinate, to put it bluntly. If I suggest some aid, she’ll brush it off as something that won’t work, or that she doesn’t want to spend money on, or more frequently, will just say “uh huh” in a dismissive way. I’ve sent her numerous things that have been largely unused: a long-handled lotion applicator, a hands-free magnifier, a hands-free book holder, magnetic closures for her jewelry . . .

I got some foam tubes that can be cut to size and slid onto flatware, razors, whatever. They’re for people with grip issues. My hope is that they’ll be the right size to slip into her  hand and then won’t require much gripping to use, making meals easier for her (and, selfishly, quicker for me). Utensils are available with larger grips, but these were much cheaper, so I won’t feel like I’m throwing money away if they join the legions of well-intentioned but unused aids.

The other purchase I made is a clip-on magnifier for her insulin syringes, that also helps guide the needle into the bottle. The markers on those syringes are small – even I have to peer over my glasses to see them when I’m drawing her insulin for her. And since her depth perception is an issue, getting the needle into the rubber opening on the insulin bottle often requires several tries. It’s entertaining to watch, but then she starts laughing with me and has even more trouble getting the two to meet.

This time, I’m taking them up to her and making her try them while she’s with me – a captive audience on a cruise ship. If they work, hopefully she’ll get used to using them and will continue to use them when she gets home and on her own again. Her hands will never be the soft, flat hands I used to play with in church, but at least hopefully they can, with a little assistance, still help her with every day needs.

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