I’m an old fart. I gots me some troubles, I does.
Aches ‘n pains ‘n miseries.
What I didn’t have were red spots appearing like ghost spasms on my finger tips, first the middle finger on the left hand, then the index finger on the right. Thumb. Another finger. They were tiny dots, as if I’d been sprayed with red ink, though not so vibrant. Pale splotches followed, each bit growing and spreading. And no, they didn’t wash off.
My fingers were cold, though that’s nothing new… cold hands, warm heart dontcha know. Nope, I’m talking chill that’s spreading.
Oh yeah, then there were the two nights prior when I awoke with debilitating numbness in my fingers. Not that owie stiffness. Nope, this hurt and it didn’t go away after squeezing, shaking and otherwise doing a St Vitus dance to get my blood pumping.
When you get to be my age, it’s easy to overlook the accumulated signs of aging, not so easy when your blood vessels look to be running amuk and no amount of fleece is warming your bones.
What’s a gal to do?
Well, you Google, like you do. I typed in “red spots on fingertips” and up popped an array of possible causes, including “scleraderma”—an autoimmune disease. Starting at the top and working my way down through the links, I discovered that I hit virtually every bullet point for symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic explained: Red spots or lines on skin. These small red spots or lines (telangiectasias) are caused by the swelling of tiny blood vessels near the skin’s surface. They are not painful and occur primarily on the hands and face.
WebMD provided a handy source guide for symptoms, complications, and treatment (mostly of the it’s incurable but here are some meds that will make you wish you were dead OR will actually kill you… thanks, but no thanks).
Scleraderma even has a Foundation… never an encouraging thing as it underscores the seriousness of the disease. Under “How Serious is Scleraderma?”: Any chronic disease can be serious. The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly for each person, and the effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life threatening. The seriousness will depend on the parts of the body, which are affected, and the extent to which they are affected. A mild case can become more serious if not properly treated. Prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment by qualified physicians may minimize the symptoms of scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage.
Two bouts of Lymes. A history of arthritis and its complications. Joint swelling and pain from horse-related injuries. Now numbness and red dots oh my! This is it, I’m doomed! (There’s more, but trust me… I had every reason to be spooked. Firstborn agreed.)
Convinced I was about to suffer a painful, debilitating death… and with, by my estimate, only a week to live, I emailed the doctor (this all went down on Sunday morning) for an appointment, listing EVERY symptom and offered up any day of the upcoming week in the ‘when are you available’ calendar. I didn’t go beyond that week, because.. you know, one week left to live.
Monday morning, first thing, I got a call from the nurse inquiring about the shortness of breath, the numbness and the red dots. She was concerned and fit me in after determining calling 911 wasn’t necessary.
With a Wednesday morning appointment secured, my symptoms went into immediate remission—no dots, minimal numbness, and a newfound acceptance of my lot in life.
To make a long story short: after jumping through a series of neurological hoops/tests, the doc suggested we look into carpal tunnel syndrome. That includes wearing braces on my wrists, having a nerve conduction test, and seeing a specialist.
Bing bada BOOM! my calendar is now a series of scheduled medical visits, including a by-the-way you need a bone density scan, so that’s today to start the festivities. The other appointments are spaced through March, so I guess I under-estimated my time left on this planet, because they obviously wouldn’t schedule me that far out if I was going to renege on helping health insurance company execs live in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed.
I have the braces, amusingly called Cockup Volar splints, and they are quite something. I can now officially be called #bondagegirl. And after two nights usage, I’m here to tell you they work a treat: no numbness, no red dots, and no pain/swelling/limited joint flexibility.
Huh, fancy that.
I’m not keen on the nerve conduction test. Lots of folks have chimed in, using terms like “legal torture” which isn’t giving me a warm fuzzy.
Of course, I still ache, still suffer from the bucket list of major and minor aggravations from having lived a long life. But that’s okay, because what I now have is peace of mind on the medical front, which is better than the piece(s) of mind I get every morning looking at the latest news.
For someone who has to be hauled, kicking and screaming, to the emergency room (last time: burst appendix), I’m showing amazing personal growth.
Have yourselves a good day! (And go see your doctor, trust me on this one.)