You see osteoarthritis runs in the family. For those not familiar with it, osteoarthritis is where the cartilage in joints wears away until bone grinds against bone. My mom has it in her hands and since I'm her mini me I knew there was a good chance that I'd get it too. For her it didn't get bad until she was in her fifties so if I developed it, I expected mine to progress at a similar rate.
Well, I definitely have it in both hands. I felt the first signs two years ago but it was so minor that I only needed the occasional pain killer. Most of the time a dose of black cherry (a natural anti-inflammatory) was enough to take care of it. A year ago it escalated but I could still get by on the occasional ibuprofen in addition to the cherry. Now I'm taking 1300mg or more of Tylanol arthritis in addition to the maximum dose of black cherry, and wearing compression gloves every day.
Unfortunately there are days when even that is not enough.
Because I'm only 36 and would like to have a functioning liver in thirty years, I'm trying not to rely on pain killers to get through the day. I'm keeping a mental list of motions and activities that are more strenuous than others. Some activities that cause me a lot of pain, like cooking, I can't avoid. And unfortunately there are others that as much as I'd like to continue doing them, for example piano or riding a motorcycle, it wouldn't be wise for me to so. However there are some that I can easily cut out of my life. Yes, you guessed it. Handshakes fall into this category.
I know. It's an innocuous action and if compression gloves relieve pain than why are handshakes so painful? Well a small amount of pressure relieves pain. A medium amount of pressure -- like that of a firm, polite handshake, hurts a lot. If I'm clasping a hand that's larger than mine, stretching my hand around theirs adds more pain on top of that. Repeat twenty times a day and the cumulative result is excruciating.
I do realize that wearing a big sign at a convention means that I'll have to explain it 100 times a day. I'm okay with that. It's the price of being proactive. If this does prolong the strength and usability of my hands the hassle will be worth it.