I have my mother’s hands.

I always admired how strong and beautiful her hands were; whether she was rubbing my head as I drifted to sleep or when she playfully pinched me, they always felt like home.  I even wrote a poem about how we have the same hands entitled, “Heartbeat”.

My dad has long, graceful fingers.  His hands are very elegant, though he probably would not like me to describe them as such.  You see, he’s a fan of John Wayne and all things macho and manly. But, his handsome hands always provided strength, comfort and safety.

I like my hands.  I consider them one of my greatest assets.  You know, when teenage girls start assessing their favorite body parts, most girls would mention their legs or other areas.  My hands were my crowning glory. They allowed me to write.

I treat my hands well.  I give them lotion at night, and always wear gloves when gardening or washing dishes.  My husband says I have doll hands because they are “little and beautiful”. However, that compliment has become a little suspect since Kristen Wiig’s famous small hands skit on Saturday Night Live.  My friends comment on my hands.  One of my dearest friends, I’ll call her ‘Soul Sister’, always says I have “freakishly soft hands”.  She owns a CrossFit gym and remarks how those bars would tear my sweet hands up. If that is the case, I do not believe I have a future in CrossFit.  My former roommate, let’s call her ‘Southern Sister’ wanted to make a shirt out of my skin. Yes. A shirt. Who knew she had Hannibal Lecter tendencies?

Now, my hands are rebelling against me.  

Hands communicate so much.  Italians know this kind of non-verbal expression.  Everyone in my family talks with his or her hands. It’s like the old adage, if you tied our hands, we would be mute.  If I am in a tense situation and do not want to give away my emotions, I actually hold my own hands – like I did when I was little, holding my own hand while crossing the street.  I have an independence streak.

I went to my first rheumatologist and the first thing I noticed were her hands.  She examined me with a light touch. I felt so afraid, yet safe because how she was handling me.  But, then something totally changed. When I started asking my questions, she waved her hands- as if she was shooing me away.  She even began taking our her stethoscope and examining me mid-question. I would ask about complementary therapies, and the hand would swat the air to punctuate her dismissal, “you don’t want to waste your money”.  When she told me the medicine she was prescribing had side effects that affected the lungs, I told her about my asthma and how my mom died of complications from pulmonary hypertension. She waved her hand and said, “that doesn’t matter”.

Each swipe of her hand cut into my soul.  I was completely vulnerable and in pain. And, it was clear this person did not care.  There is nothing more soul crushing than needing help and not getting it.

I decided this rheumatologist and I were not a good fit.  I opted to find an integrative rheumatologist because I truly feel that such a condition is best treated with a combination of medicine and holistic remedies such as wellness, diet and stress management. I really wanted a healthcare provider who would understand what I needed.  I found that someone.

This rheumatologist spent over an hour with my husband and me on our first appointment.  He went into great detail about my options and what the plan was to help me in the short-term and long-term considerations.  He anticipated all of my questions, so I wound up not asking him anything. This situation is unheard of as I always have a ton of questions.

The best part?  He gently took both of my hands and said, “we are going to make you feel better – and even stronger.”  I knew then I was in good hands.

Heartbeat (Hands, Feet in Drumbeat)

Same hands,

Kneading meatballs together

Same feet,

Walking in the sand

Same hands,

Waving goodbye, leaving for school

Same feet,

Strolling through London

Same hands,

Admiring wedding bands

Same feet,

Fatigued from dancing

Same hands,

Holding chubby baby hands

Same feet,

Running through the grass

Different hands,

Full of IVs

Different feet,

Running through the ICU

Different hands, Different feet,

Turning blue

Different hands, Different feet,

Saying this final farewell

Different hands, different feet


7 thoughts on “Hands

  1. This blog is inspiring and relatable. I cried when I read it this time because it relates to my now. I don’t have RA. But finding the right fit is important in all aspects of life and right now we are going through a time where we are figuring out our “right fits”. Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Sarah! I get the “right fits”. Thank you so much for reading!!! I am particularly grateful that you are relating to the content as I don’t want my blog to be solely about RA all the time. I want to share so many ideas, and my journey with RA. I’m so glad my blog is resonating with you. Thank you, sweet friend. See you this weekend on the soccer field 🙂


  2. Oh Elizabeth you were right to advise me to read this at home. It was beautiful, particularly the poem at the end. So moving, still so searing what we went through with Mom. I love you.

    Liked by 1 person

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