Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thumbs Up - Thumbs Down...

Oh my aching thumbs.

A few years ago my thumbs began to ache.   When they were were aching more than not, one of my nurse brothers poked at them and said, "You've got the beginning of arthritis there, get the doc to give you an antiinflammatory."  Everyone else's opinion was that I had the beginning of carpal tunnel but the pain never, ever radiated into my wrist.  So I talked with my primary care doc and she prescribed a strong antiinflammatory.

The issue over this past year became that they hurt so much - and the right one would swell if I didn't take the antiinflammatory, therefore I was taking a very strong med every single night for the most part.  At my physical this year, my doc said it was time to seek alternative solutions, so last week I finally made it to the orthopedic doctor to have him look at my aching thumbs.

I emphasized to everyone that my right thumb was constantly in pain and showed them the joints where it hurt.  X-rays of both thumbs were taken and much to my surprise (and consternation!), my left thumb is completely disabled from arthritis.  There are bone spurs, one bone has collapsed onto the other and there is no joint, the bone isn't sitting properly in there, and there is what the doc called "joint junk" which looked like a white cloud.  He said it probably doesn't hurt as much because without knowing it, I've stopped using it since it's disabled. The only solution is surgery with 4-6 weeks in a cast.  At least there is no urgency and I can put it off as long as I want.

The right thumb is heading in that direction but is only stage 2 so he was able to give me a cortisone injection into the joint and he asked me to wear a brace on it if I am doing a lot of hand work.  I have to say, the injection has helped tremendously and my thumb nearly feels normal - at least as normal as it ever will again I guess. The funny thing is now that my right thumb feels so much better, I am actually noticing some pain in the left one. Sigh.  The brace is not pretty but manageable and I don't have to wear it all the time so that's a plus.

When all was said and done, the medical assistant, who happens to be a big burly man said he couldn't believe I've been dealing with my thumb pain all this time and he can't get over how women really handle large amounts of pain.  That's right - I am woman, hear me roar!


On May 2nd, Mr. Helen and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary.  It was a little extra special this year because he had been away all last week at a class and got home in the middle of the night Friday which maybe made us feel a little more romantic.  Absence and the heart growing fonder and all that...

It was a gorgeous day weather-wise (even if it was a smidge cool) so we started our day off by going to one of the trails we had hiked when we were practicing for the Grand Canyon.  We hiked the 3.5 mile trail the uphill way as we didn't intend to do anything but actually hike it and wanted to feel a bit of a workout.  It took us a little over an hour and was a wonderful way to start the day.

When we got home Mr. Helen wanted to do some weight lifting as he hadn't really worked out the whole week and I took off to run some errands.

The whole day was just sort of laid back and nice.  We had dinner reservations for Cafe Routier, a restaurant that we'd heard was excellent but had never been to. I also picked it because normally we would have been in St. Martin eating at a French restaurant and this is the closest you'd get to that around here. Unfortunately it took me so long to figure out where to go that our reservation choices were 5:30 or 8:30.  I picked the earlier time as I figured Mr. Helen might be a bit tired from traveling. We decided to go there for 5 and go into their bar to enjoy a specialty cocktail prior to dinner.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day!

23rd Anniversary Selfie

I had a drink called a Black Rita:  plum infused vodka with cointreau, fresh lime juice and fresh agave sour served over ice.  Mr. Helen doesn't even drink vodka and when he took a sip of it he said, "that's the sort of cocktail that can get you in trouble!"  Truly, it was refreshing and delicious and of course now I'm obsessing to see if I can figure out how to make them at home.

After our cocktail we went over the the restaurant side where we were one of two couples seated.  I told Mr. Helen to watch how fast it filled up since there was that 3 hour time frame when no reservations were available.  Our waiter, James, came over and explained about their menus - they have 3 - a regional menu featuring items from a particular area - in this case Italy, a seasonal menu, and a specialty menu. You can mix and match however you'd like to create your meal.  Mr. Helen told James that he realized they were busy but he hoped we wouldn't be rushed because it was our anniversary.  James responded not to worry about that at all and right then I knew we'd have a fantastic evening.  We treated ourselves to a nice bottle of French Bordeaux, each had an appetizer and an entree and shared a dessert.  It was simply a fantastic meal and experience - just the right touch for a celebration!

My appetizer from the regional menu: a pork belly porchetta with a frissee and grape tomato salad.  Mr. Helen got fried oysters off the specialty menu, but I didn't take a photo of those.

Mr. Helen's entree from the specialty menu: "Mom's Meatloaf" -  good old fashioned meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and green beans.  He said it was magnificent and only ate about 2/3 of it so he could have leftover for a sandwich. Unfortunately, he left it on the table - he was sad about that.

My entree from the seasonal menu: grilled hangar steak with grilled asparagus and a blue cheese bread pudding.  That bread pudding was so good and yes, I am going to try to replicate it.

 Our dessert: Chocolate turtle cake with vanilla ice cream and pralined pecans.  I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was.  The cake was unlike any I've ever had - so light but buttery at the same time.

As we talked over our leisurely dinner, we decided that in the 23 years we've been married, we've been to heaven and hell and back many times over and that this was a wonderful way to celebrate our stick to it-ness.  Real marriage with all it's ups and downs is worth celebrating and this was one that will go in the memory books with a big thumbs up!


  1. Thumb pain is pretty awful - I've had some myself and feel for you. I got a laugh out of what that burly medical assistant said to you because YES, we women can handle a lot of pain! With the surgery, what exactly will they be doing to fix this?

    That is a great picture of the two of you - sounds like your anniversary was a really nice day. I don't think they all have to be grand events...sometimes, it's just nice to spend some time together. The hike sounds nice, and that dinner? Yummy!

  2. I loved that picture of you guys and glad you had a relaxed dinner and didn't feel rushed. Sorry about the thumb pain too - gah!

    And when you come up with that recipe for blue cheese bread pudding let me know!

  3. Congrats on your anniversary. You had me at 'pralined pecans' LOL

    I had 'Blackberry thumb' about 8 years ago. YEOOOW. Really painful. I was lucky that cortisone injections, braces, and better methods for using the Blackberry (back then) relieved me of the problem. Be careful with cell phone usage...they could aggravate the problem.

  4. Wow, the thumb pain sounds awful. And its weird that two of my friends have it (you and Shelley.) I'm hoping that the arthritis will just skip over my hands.

    Love the picture of you guys, and love the nice day you had. And of course, I want the cake :)

  5. Sorry about the thumb pain. Arthritis is no fun. I was talking with a friend about women and pain recenty and my theory is that men can deal with acute pain pretty well, but women can deal with chronic pain much better.

    That selfie shot is awesome. You guys are cute :D

  6. Belated happy anniversary wishes! You both look gorgeous and happy!

  7. Wow Helen that food look delicious! Happy for the two of you you had such a great day/evening.

    Sorry to hear about the thumb pain. I guess you get used to being in pain every day. I know R. has foot pain every day but he hardly ever mentions it, it becomes part of you I guess.

  8. Owie for the thumb pain.

    And WOW!! You and Mr. Helen are a handsome couple!! Happy Anniversary, with blessings and wishes for many, many more!

  9. So sorry to read about the thumb. But belated happy anniversary to you both!!!!