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Wonky hands that not functioning properly

My Hands Hate Me

Having RA for years comes with its share of challenges, I think everyone knows that much. But it’s the quirky, everyday stuff that really gets to you. For me, it seems like my hands, especially my right, has a mind of its own. In fact, I’m positive my right hand hates me, and any pretense of cordiality has gone out the window at this point. All attempts at reconciliation have failed, so, as Daffy Duck eloquently put it – this means war.

Hand weakness and RA

Can a part of your body hate you? After years of RA, I say the answer is a resounding “yes.” Case in point: the other day I was minding my own business, as I often do, admiring my perfectly poured cup of coffee. Suddenly, and without warning, my right hand flailed out and knocked the mug over, sending brown liquid flying like shrapnel from an Arabica grenade. Unfortunately, I’m used to my right hand’s bad behavior by now, and I don’t even think twice as I reach for the paper towels. As I’m primarily right-handed, I reach for the roll with the same misbehaving digits. My rightmost of hands was still angry with me, though, because as I grabbed the roll my hand suddenly dropped the entire paper towel roll into the spilled liquid. Exasperated, I used my left hand to clean up the spill and shook my head as my right hand gave me the finger.

RA or Alien Hand Syndrome?

Ok, ok, my hand didn’t literally give me the finger, but I know it was thinking it. Sometimes I feel like it’s going to turn into a mouthy marionette so it can tell me to suck it, and then laugh in my face like a ventriloquist without a dummy. Why do my hands seem to have a mind of their own? Is it the years of RA, or am I suffering from that rarest of conditions – Alien Hand Syndrome? This is a real condition where the right half of the brain becomes disconnected from the left, and one of your body’s hands literally gains a mind of its own. It will reach out and knock things over, try to do tasks you haven’t told it to, and smack idiots upside the head when they deserve it. Now, my hand has never doled out corporal punishment to morons (without my say so), but the rest? Well, let’s just say that some days trying to tie my shoe is like thumb wrestling with a six-fingered man. With six thumbs.

On the days when my right hand isn’t holding me in open contempt, it broods quietly and becomes passive-aggressive. I will be standing in a store, happily reading the label on a jar of tomato sauce and then poof! Mr. Passive Aggressive just decides he’s not going to hold on any longer and goes limp. Down goes the tomato sauce and explodes right there on the grocery store floor. Let me just say that it takes a certain amount of finesse to not look a raving lunatic when you yell at your own hand in public. I apparently don’t possess the needed smoothness because, as I put it up to my face like some sort of naked sock puppet and began to scold my own hand, I did get a few looks. Then again, this is New York.

When my hand actually works

In reality, me and my hand have a love-hate relationship (it’s not as dirty as it sounds, I promise). Just when I’m at my wit’s end and ready to lop him off with a meat cleaver, he will do something great and make me love him again. For instance, I was standing at my dresser the other day and on top, I have a small vase. It hasn’t had anything in it since the day I got divorced, but it’s still there putting my dust on display and being a general nuisance. As I was getting dressed, I must have brushed into the vase with the shirt I was taking out because there it was, teetering on the edge of the dresser with a disastrous fall a veritable certainty. As it careened off the edge, my right hand reached out before I could even think and when I looked down, there was the vase gripped solidly. Dude! My hand had done me a solid. These random, good deeds by that thing at the end of my right arm happen enough to mention, and I just can’t figure out if it’s because my right hand wants to do good or if I’ve just gotten so used to the bad behavior that my reflexes have been honed to a fine point. I like to believe the best in people so, for now, I’ll assume it’s my right hand making up for his passive-aggressive (and sometimes active aggressive) conduct. No hand can be 100% jackass, right?

When you have RA, your body does things that you never thought possible, and the hands are almost always a bad area for long-term sufferers. I don’t think that many other’s hands have become sentient and act in a silently belligerent manner against their owners like mine has, but I know that random spasms and loss of grip are common. It’s during those days, when the hands are out of hand, that you just want to throw up your arms and scream. Talk soon.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Amanda Kohl
    4 months ago

    This article made me laugh thinking I was the only one who views my hand as a separate entity. My right hand was the 1st thing to be permanently affected with my initial major flare of RA. It’s twisted and doesn’t close tightly. Making a tight fist is a challenge (good thing I’m not a fighter LOL)! I struggle with the usual stuff like writing, cooking, applying make up, getting dressed, etc. I was a nurse in my previous life but it’s impossible to start IVs, give injections, change bandages as well as chart electronically or by hand written notes without cooperation of your dominant hand! That’s what caused me to go on disability. Mow, I dabble with making money on the side doing what I love, floral design and natural decor, but that can be just as challenging. Over the past few years I’ve come to accept my limitations (somewhat) and only do what I can (but sometimes I stubbornly power through). My hand calls the shots and lets me know when it’s time to walk away for a while, usually in the most passive aggressive way!! I agree, we have to find humor and laugh at these lives that we live! Well, laughter and sarcasm… they kinda go hand-in-hand!!!

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @amandakohl I have also switched hands and you can find me yelling at droopy and droppy all the time! (Droopy is the left hand, droppy is the right.) I think we all stubbornly power through sometimes, I’m suffering the consequences of powering through spring cleaning right now! I’m glad you got a smile, thanks for reading. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Mia10
    4 months ago

    That sounds like me!! My hands behave badly and are ugly. It makes me sad but with the meds nowdays they won’t get as bad as my Aunt’s hopefully.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @mia10 Your hands misbehave also, eh? I wish we coudl spank them but since our hands are used to spank it’s hard to spank our own spankers! Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • TheMuddyDoe
    4 months ago

    Thank you for your article, I really needed a laugh today! My right hand went rogue earlier and threw my dinner plate and my dinner to the ground like a spoiled toddler. Feels good to laugh about the chaos that is RA, thank you!

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @themuddydoe Always! That’s exactly what we are here for! If you got a laugh and that made you not feel bad with RA for even a minute then that’s a win! Anytime you want some jovial company we’ll be here, thanks for reading! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • MMuehlberg
    4 months ago

    I totally agree. I’m ambidextrous as my right hand has a birth defect so I’ve learned growing up to do a great many things with my left hand that my right cannot do. That said RA has affected my left hand most of all. Things I have alot of trouble with are earrings, holding a fork and picking up small items from a table. Some days (the amount of days have been rapidly decreasing), I can do all of those things or none. My RA has progressed rapidly, I was just diagnosed 2 years ago. It’s caused already carpal tunnel, tendinitis and interstitial lung disease. It’s rather frightening to think what it’ll be in 10 years. Will I even be able to use my hands?

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @mmuehlberg I wasn’t ambidextrous but now I have used my left hand for so many years that it’s actually stroner and more useful for everything except writing! Crazy right? I had very agressive pretty much unchecked RA for over 30 years, so I feel your pain. It’s awful, but you aren’t alone, remeber that. We are always here! Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Mia10
    4 months ago

    That sounds like me!! My hands behave badly and are ugly. It makes me sad . I too wonder about say 10 years fast forward, I can only pray my hands don’t close up. I’m tired of my meds but without them I’m screwed

  • militarymom9988
    4 months ago

    I love this article. I do drop things, but the thing that bothers me the most is taking a pen and writing or signing anything. My fingers are like pickup sticks. The pen rolls across my fingers and sometimes I have to use the other hand to secure it in my hand to be able to write. Frustrating to be sure.

    Sometimes I feel like a bad juggler when I drop pens or paper. Sometimes I just give up and have whoever is with me do it.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @militarymom9988 Or what about having to go into a new doctor’s office that KNOWS you have RA or a disease like it and STILL they make you fill out a long form in pen! That always made me think it was insane! I have juggled things so much I feel like I could join the circus by now, so I get it, I feel your pain. Thanks for reading! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Diann400
    4 months ago

    That one post cracked me up right hand he calls Fritz that’s my hubby’s 1st name. Bi lateral carpal tunnel did take away the tingling and numbness Surgeon said Diseased Tissue was removed too due to Ra. Jan 25 had both hands done rt was severe . I do my own therapy at home now . Friends who also have Ra keep telling me exercise best thing well as I made my one mile walk it’s tough for me to believe it as my ankles scream at me saying go home. I will them scream tonight to when the 2nd mile comes in to play. Sometimes I wonder if my neighbors think I am practicing sign language as I walk I thrown in the hand therapy too

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @diann400 Ha ha, I talk to myself and move my hands and legs all the time too. My neighbors must think I’m some sort of lunatic who moved in next door. Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Groovymom96
    4 months ago

    Loved this article! This has been a tough week, struggling with a flare and humor is good medicine. I also have a love/hate relationship with various joints, particularly my right wrist/hand, nicknamed Fritz. We often have conversations with each other, many of them contentious! Thanks for the laugh.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @groovymom96 Flare and humor do make a good combination, right? I figured that out long ago and now I do my best to share it with everyone else. I have a right wrist issue too, but his name isn’t something I can write down here, in polite company. Let’s just say it ALSO starts with the letter F. Ha ha. Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Diann400
    4 months ago

    Boy do I hear ya
    My hands hate me to. A year ago I woke up to left hand and its hatred toward me couple weeks later right hand joined the party. I have broken so many things lost count. Needling was done. Helped a lot by a therapist but all started back up again month after I stopped. Up teen meds all bad side effect
    Tingling numbness was not getting better let along the pain. Ankles knees joined the party too. Started on Methotrexate because right hand so bad like you wanted to lop it off. Started to helped 3 weeks in but liver decided to soar off it I went
    Nerve conductive test was done Bi lateral carpal t surgery done week later Tinging numbness left but stiffness still big problem .I do therapy but my hands don’t hate me as much now its dislike me.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @diann400 I hate when both hands join the party, it’s like the worst party ever. LOL I have broken and spilled so many things I figured I’d start wearing an upside-down umbrella as a skirt. Seriously. I also have the neuropathy, the tingling, and that makes it a million times more awesome. Not. Glad therapy is helping you. Thanks for reading, I feel your pain. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Amy Borel
    4 months ago

    Hey, Daniel,
    I’m also a writer and editor and spend a lot of time at the computer. I used to keep journals for my kids (written by hand), but now I find it difficult to write by hand for very long. I also wonder when they’ll stop working and I’ll use voice-to-text. Hopefully by the time that happens, voice-to-text will have been perfected. Hang in there.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @amyborel I know right! Right now using the voice thing is like “I go to the car park every day” and it writes “I show the bar to Clark anyway.” GRRRRR! Let’s hope we never get there! Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • MrsT
    4 months ago

    Thanks for the good laugh, Daniel! 😉 I definitely needed it today. My RA is acting up like crazy and it’s not been a good day for me.

    I’ve had RA for 47 years and I can honestly say I’ve never had either of my hands act the way you describe. It does actually make me wonder if you have AHS.

    I am sorry you’re having such a difficult time, but I do look forward to more of your articles.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @lisakay I’m always here to help bring some lightness to our shared illness! It’s hearing form readers like you that make me feel better! Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • swoocher
    4 months ago

    Same thing happens to me with my left hand. I m left-handed. the fingers will go numb and I’ll drop things, or I’ll get a sharp stabbing pain, and also drop things. I wear a brace on that hand for some support. It’s really hard to cope with at times. Way worse in cold,damp weather.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    4 months ago

    @swoocher I wear braces or those compression gloves when it gets bad, or it’s cold out. Being a writer, I always worry if one day I will have to use the voice writing tool. Or worse. Thanks for reading, keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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