Friday, January 23, 2009

Ring splints

I don't know if the use of ring splints in EDS is widespread enough to be called universal, but it is pretty darn common. I've used both Silver Ring Splints (SRS) and Oval 8s, both of which have plusses and minuses. I first got SRS, oh, six or seven years ago, though I needed them earlier. Completely losing the ability to maintain a grip was a motivating factor in getting them. I got eight fingers splinted at the time (three fingers on each hand, plus thumbs), leaving out my pinkies in order to reduce my out of pocket expenses. Since then, I've managed to lose splints, break splints, and replace some splints. Pinkies are still waiting for the love.

Perhaps you'd like to see pictures? OK, here's pictures!

This is a front view of my hands with silver ring splints, including thumb splints. I have the thumb splints tied on with elastic band because (1) I find having anything more substantial right at the base of my palm drives me nuts and (2) I tend to snag bracelets. I used to have a splint for my right middle finger, but it is broken.

Here you can plainly see that I don't have my pinkies splinted. You also get to see my lovely saggy baggy skin. It's always been that way, sort of flopped on top of bones and veins. My hands naturally curl up--tighter than this--and the splints help keep me from contracting them quite so much. 

Both hands, with fingers forced straight. Notice that the unsplinted fingers are taking creative paths. You can also see that my thumbs do their best, even splinted, to disappear into my palm. The splints on them guide them into the correct place, but don't put a lot of pressure on them. In fact, over time, all of the splints become deformed from my fingers' tendency to veer off. This is why Carapace prefers 3 Point Products Oval 8 splints. Also, you can buy Oval 8s directly, if you know your knuckle size, but SRS need to be sized by professionals. Because I have so much extra skin on my fingers, and the joints were quite swollen, the hand therapist had quite a challenge getting the right size, so if you are like me, don't expect that you will get the right size the first time with SRS.

Finally, here is a palm-side view of my left hand. You can see that I have a mixture of extra-strength and regular-strength splints.  I would suggest to anyone to get the stronger ones because  of the tendency of the splints to deform after a while.

Please take a moment to speak up for Minna. Her life depends on all of us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I ain't dead

It's the little things that keep me from blogging. Specifically, of late, my left pinkie finger. I keep forgetting that it has decided it isn't stable anymore, and thus I keep slamming it against the keyboard as if I could actually type with it. I'm going to have to do one of two things: Either I remember to type like my daughter, who has never had use of her pinkies, or I actually remember to schedule a visit to the hand therapist and get the pinkies splinted up. Me remembering either one doesn't seem to be happening. You'd think the pain and annoyance would be enough reminder.

Note to anyone else who is in the process of getting finger splints: When they ask you which joints you want splinted, even though you would like to hold the cost down, go ahead and get your pinkies done even if they don't seem to be much of a problem. Otherwise, you'll be like me, grumbling "ow!" every few keys and then just closing down the program to go do something that doesn't threaten to dislocate your poor neglected pinky.

Other than pinky abuse, I've been having a pretty good time of things these past few days. I did take health leave for a few hours Monday last week. Thanks to the combination of EDS and the menstrual cycle, I was a collapsing mess all day. Menfolk, you have no idea what it is to have a monthly dose of cartilage dissolving hormones loosening up your already loose bones. By mid-afternoon, my muscles were spasming from the effort of holding myself upright. When the boss suggested everyone taking a "meeting" at a lakeside cafe, the first thought that popped into my head was dread at trying to sit up in a bistro chair.  That's when I knew I really needed to just go home. Ah, home, where my recliner is and gravity isn't trying to coax my head off my neck.

I am actually trying to get another post written, but finishing it will have to wait until I'm up to bashing my pinkie some more. 

Thursday, January 01, 2009


It was the Monday before Christmas and Carapace wanted me to take her to see the lights and get in some last minute shopping. So we started off with a nice lunch and made our way into The Big City.

On the way, I started to feel it slipping over me. Pain? Maybe. I'm not particularly good at identifying pain. Discomfort, yes, discomfort. Tired, so tired. Patella slipping out of place--annoying, potentially ruinous of the night's plans, which involved walking through a neighborhood to see the lights.  But tired, so tired. So very, very tired. And uncomfortable. And nauseous. Everything comes through as if in static. Sight, sound, touch. So much fun to be driving like this, oh, such a delight. No stress, no stress.

When we get to our first destination, I take a Zomig and stay in the car, try to sleep. A car pulls up in the next space, waiting for someone, it seems like hours, pouring out pounding hip hop. I want to vomit. I sleep for five, maybe ten minutes. I give up and go into the stores. Maybe I am feeling better. Maybe that's why I can't sleep. I'll shop. But the lights are wrong, there are lines, there are people moving faster than I can process. My stomach starts rolling again.

Carapace sees me and tells me I look bad. I wonder what I look like to other people who aren't her. She thinks I look like Death, that I have no color in my face, that my lips are white. I feel like Death, so it is good to get some external validation. Do other people see me and see the same? Is that why they move past so quickly? I lie to Carapace, telling her I feel a bit better, and that we can go to the next shopping center. She's having a good night, this time. And I think she rather likes it when she is the one whose brain isn't misfiring.

We get to Target, and she no longer believes I am doing any better. "You need caffeine," she says as she hands me a migraine tablet. I protest that I've taken the Zomig, that maybe it will start to work. "Doesn't matter." She's insistent, and I'm in no shape to argue. If she'd told me I needed arsenic, I'd have relented just as easily. "We need to get some coffee in you." I buy a coffee at the in-store deli, but it is their last cup of the day. It's weak, old, and not enough.  She's bought her last few items, and I promise to stop for coffee as soon as we find a place. 

I drive on auto-pilot, taking the literal roads of least resistance. Other drivers are being extra courteous as I slow down, trying to suss out a place to go, a place that won't be too loud, too bright, too unlikely to have coffee. I've about given up when I spot a Whataburger. Assuming they have coffee, it will be in copious amounts, because they don't do small. And, while brightly lit and garishly colored, they don't do "ambient music." I've had all the ambient music I can take for one day, so fluorescently lit orange it is.

We linger over coffee. I discover that the annoying scratchy crinkly sound I've been hearing all day is my knee brace. I have a window now. I'm not completely better, but I can function like this. We leave. Young men in the parking lot are singing about sex. They notice us as we approach and suddenly change their tune: "Fa la la la la, la la, la la." I get in the car, laughing. It's the best I've felt since lunch.

We go see the lights, and they are fun. I'm glad not to have missed them. One more store--groceries. Now Carapace is down on the floor with a seizure. Her window is closed for the day. Mine will close again soon. Time to go home.