I now have an appointment with a rheumatologist. Not until next week, and I don't know whether I'll come out of it with anything more definite than I presently have, which is that it looks a lot like rheumatoid arthritis, but it's difficult to diagnose RA until it's done real damage.
The Naproxen (can I say a drug name on here without attracting med-spam? I guess I'll find out) is working well so far. The stiffness in my hands and wrists is fairly constant, but I can work it off mostly, and I haven't had anything like the mid-January hand-cramps that kept me from doing anything.
There's what I might call a veiled threat in my hands, a hint that without medication they would be quite painful. Which is interesting in itself, because usually I'm in the position of thinking 'well, I don't know how much good these painkillers are doing, and I just have to take it on faith that I'd hurt worse without them'. The last time I recall being aware of a barrier between me and actual pain was when I was doped up after my first miscarriage, and that was emotional pain kept at a remove. This is physical pain kept at a remove. It's an odd sensation.
In an unexpected way, the possible diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is helpful. When I thought the pain was somehow connected with the rotator cuff injury back in April, it confined me. I believed that my body was warning me, that the pain was a way of telling me 'don't do that'--if only I could guess what 'that' was. I ended up with a frozen shoulder because I was trying not to cause the pain by the wrong kind of movement, afraid of muscles and tendons fraying apart, under my skin where I couldn't see.
But if it's RA, pain is my body's way of blowing a raspberry at me, or showing me who's boss. It's gloating, not warning, and so I don't have to obey. I need to be aware of my new limitations, and not overwork myself, but the pain isn't necessarily related to harm. It's random.
And it is random. It buzzes about my body like the reverse of Gold Bell Armour, the mythical martial arts technique. Instead of having one vulnerable point that I can move about my body at will, my body has many vulnerable points, that it moves around against my will. One day my right thumb swells up and I can't write my name, another day my right forefinger and left little finger balloon, and the next week my wrists turn red and swell.
Again, the Naproxen is keeping this in check. I am appreciative. So far none of it has interfered with my typing, for which I am deeply appreciative. I am more easily tired, I think, and have somewhat less energy, but it's too soon to know if that's continuing or temporary. It may just be winter blahs, and I'll perk up when the sun starts coming up earlier.
Sunday I had a burst of enthusiasm, and not only brought The Willow Knot up to 60k, but chalked out the design for the last bit of painted wall in the new tent, a 4x8' Saint Barbara on an old tablecloth, to fill in the bit of wall that SS. Crispin and Crispinian, Dunstan and Eligius don't quite cover. Then I made cookies (butterscotch chip) to test whether I can do the things that I enjoy, still. Apparently I can, though my wrist is sore today, and that may be payback.
But this is a writing blog, not a moaning-about-the-flesh blog, so I'll stop. Next time I'll catch up with my writing news, honest.