A couple of months ago, I started to put it together. I mean, for a while, I was puzzled. “How did I hit my finger? Why is it stiff and bruised? Wait, that’s gone, but now my thumb hurts. Well, shit. I mean, I can still knit and crochet, but opening jars is sort of a job for someone else now. And seriously. The Advil bottle? Oh cruel, cruel irony. Cruel, cruel fate.”
Also, at night, when it’s cold and damp, my fingers grow cold and stiff on the keyboard. Whatever digit or two that’s feeling frisky that night complains loudly when used–and beating up my keyboard with passionate dialog isn’t a good idea.
I started to worry. Oh Lord. My mother’s family has suffered from arthritis terribly. My grandmother complained of it–not often, but we knew she was in pain. And about four years ago, I’d been diagnosed with it in my knees. My response had been to up my exercise regimen–and I stick to that–and to not take the gabapentin that was given to me in a giant bottle because the side effects were boggling. For the most part that worked, but something about this stiffness in my fingers was terrifying.
A friend of mine–also suffering from arthritis–offered me her yarn, and while I am usually the “YES SEND IT ALL TO ME AND I SHALL HOARD IT LIKE THE DRAGON I AM!” friend, this time I… I hesitated. My fingers hurt. My thumbs hurt. And I was a little scared. I told her about another friend who knitted and suggested that she get this unexpected bounty. (She did, and she was very happy about it!)
And the repercussions of the refusal built up an awful panic. What if I couldn’t knit? What if I couldn’t crochet? Oh my Goddess, WHAT IF I COULDN’T YARN?
And Christmas was coming up.
I mean, of course I could make stuff for Christmas, right?
So I made the gnomes. The silly, absurd, goofy little gnomes. And the baskets for fudge–and gnomes.
I made some hats. Some keyhole scarves. Some hand warmers. Started on a shawl that I really love but I don’t know who will get it.
I mean, I kept busy.
There was stiffness in my hands–not going to lie. Bought some arthritis gloves–they help. Took some Advil. Also helped. Ergonomic crochet hooks–and sticking to crochet and small yarn–also helped. Kept crocheting and knitting and somewhere in that Christmas industry, I was reminded that it helped too. If I could get past the pain–and remember to stretch out–keeping my hands busy helped to keep my joints healthy.
Some of my panic receded.
I wasn’t out of the game yet. I wasn’t ready to start shipping all my yarn boxes to charity. I could still do this thing that has kept me sane since 1998.
Last night another friend messaged me. She had ordered some yarn that she really loved but she hated to work with. “Would you like this yarn?”
I pulled out a shawl that I was half finished working, done in this exact yarn. I adored it. “Yes! Yes I would love this yarn!”
And a part of me gave a tremendous sigh of relief. I was still doing this. It was still part of my identity. I was still in the yarn chain of give and receive, and I was still making things for people that would surprise them.
At the moment, I just need my husband to open the spaghetti sauce jars, that’s all.
Someday, it might be different. Someday, I might not be able to work past the pain. But for now, there is knitting (and crocheting! Mostly crocheting!) and I am grateful.
The reminder to be grateful for the time I have with the activities I love–and the people, and the fur-babies, and the music and television and movies and audiobooks–has not been in vain.
And when it’s over, here’s hoping I have wonderful friends to whom I can pass it on.
It would be wonderful if there could always be knitting.