Humbled by the Peanut Butter Jar

I love this stuff!

I love this stuff!

A few years ago I realized that I had the beginnings of generalized osteoarthritis – low back pain, neck pain and crepitus, creaky knees, and mild intermittent discomfort at the base of my thumbs. But, by my nature, I don’t quit and so nothing slowed me down really, until last summer when I tore the medial meniscus in my right knee (which can be a complication of arthritis). Since then I’ve stopped running.  The knee feels pretty good now and I’m enjoying walking with Sharon three times a week instead. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in my lumbar and cervical pain too. The new normal seemed to be okay.

But now my left thumb is acting up. I’ve been experiencing pain and tenderness at the base of my thumb for about a month, and it’s becoming increasingly troublesome.   It bothers me throughout the day, is a little worse at night, and hurts with direct pressure (like when doing pushups), gripping and turning motions, or if my thumb gets tugged or pulled away from my hand. So, as is my nature, I’ve been pressing on without limiting my activity or pursuing treatment. How serious could it be anyway?

Well… I had difficulty opening a fresh jar of peanut butter recently because it hurt too much. Whoa!  This is serious.   Without peanut butter (the crunchy kind of course) is life worth living? I love peanut butter! Fortunately I managed through the crisis, and my serum peanut butter levels have remained high.

All joking aside, it was humbling to have trouble with a simple jar. It was a wake up call of sorts; I can see the possibility of being seriously limited by arthritis in the future. Time to do something about it. I don’t think I need to see a doctor yet, but I’ve decided to try supplementing with glucosamine, and I’m thinking about a splint at night. We will see how it goes. If it continues to worsen it will be time to see a physician.

Beyond the thumb, the episode also has me reflecting on my “nature.” An internal drive and intensity makes it hard for me to slow down or accept weakness. Perhaps it’s a “man thing” or maybe it’s just me. I’m also generally conservative and skeptical of healthcare and I tend to avoid medicines and doctors even when they might be helpful. It’s a form of pride no doubt, and I need to work on that. Perhaps you do too. Illness and death will humble us all eventually. Better to get humble in advance.