Fibro, Arthritis, and Crochet … Oh My!

When I came across Crochet Concupiscence I raised an eyebrow. The name of the blog threw me off at first since concupiscence means lust and the blog is dedicated to healing through crochet. I never really thought about how crochet, or any of our hobbies, affect our lives. My main goal was always to find ways to continue doing things that I enjoy. After spending some time on Crochet Concupiscence I stopped and thought about it. In fact, I thought about it for a few days.

Then I asked myself if I wanted to share my story. I had so many conflicting thoughts. Is it something people want to read? Do people even care? What if it helps just one person? This has always been my biggest obstacle in blogging, how much of myself do I share? It was a problem when I ran my mommy blog (and part of what led to it’s demise). So, I am sharing this not for attention. Not for people to feel sorry for me. It is what it is and I hope that my story helps someone, somewhere.

It’s been at least 10 years since that day that I stepped out of the shower, suffered one of the worst bouts of vertigo of my life and passed out, cracking my head on the toilet. I always assumed that the minor dizzy spells that I had were somehow attributed to my back. Back in my early teens it was discovered that I had scoliosis. My doctor’s medical advice was “We need to keep an eye on that.” From there on out scoliosis was a note in my medical file that was pretty much overlooked or ignored.

Over the years it would give me more and more problems. It started with my back falling asleep, progressed to occasional muscle spasms and back pain, and ended with permanent damage done to one of my hips in the form of chronic bursitis. I walk with a limp because my body is out of alignment. My right shoulder and hip sit a full inch higher than the left.  A MRI of my back that was done showed two (or was it three?) partially herniated disks near my tailbone and degenerative bone disease caused by the scoliosis. The doctor’s response was to throw pain meds at me and send me out the door despite being concerned that someone in their early 30’s needed a cane to walk most days.

I assumed that, because the dizzy spells were somehow related to my back, and that the spine is part of the nervous system, that I needed a neurologist after I passed out that day. I probably didn’t, but ironically I made the right decision. Blood work, x-rays, an EMG, various other tests that I have since forgotten what they were, and a full radioactive body scan later the doctor declared me “normal”, meaning there wasn’t much of anything worth reporting from any of these tests. She didn’t see the humor when I told her that was the first time anyone had ever used the word normal to describe me. However, I did have a reason for why I passed out. Fibromyalgia. She also told me matter-of-factly that I had arthritis in every joint of my body. Just not the hands or knees or like most people, but everywhere including my feet, my neck and back (no surprise), and places you don’t think about like ribs (yes, your ribs are jointed). “But everyone has arthritis.” Was her dismissal. It was the fibromyalgia that needed attention.

The joy of fibro is that there is no cure. It causes wide spread pain and doctors don’t even know what causes it. Some doctors don’t even believe it’s a real disease/condition and it’s on the list of things that drug seekers end up in the emergency room for. Well, I just drew the short straw.

The short version of all this is that I live in pain. Sometimes pain meds help, sometimes they don’t. Some days are better than others. My body feels twice it’s age. In my 40’s I feel like I am in my 80’s. I dread to find out what I am going to feel like in my 80’s. If anyone knows what 160 feels like, let me know. I want ample time to prepare.

This post is supposed to be about crochet. I haven’t forgotten. I’m getting there.

Anyone that has dealt with arthritis knows that some days your hands just don’t work. They are stiff and sore. Fine motor control is a thing of the past and you drop things. I had to give up cross-stitching because I could no longer manipulate the needle. Sometimes I will attempt small projects that most people could complete in a day or two (it will take me at least a week) but it’s mostly an exercise in frustration.

At that point I decided to take up crochet more seriously and try my hand at loom knitting. I found out quickly that most days it was hard to hold onto crochet hooks. They are rather thin. Things that I loved doing were slowly being taken away from me. Then I discovered Tulip Etimo hooks (I wrote about them before) and I have been able to crochet again.

It feels good to have a hobby back. I don’t crochet as fast as most people but it’s not the slow tedious process it was before. I can say first hand it sucks something terrible to loose full range of motion and not be able to do things that were once normal. It’s very discouraging and depressing to know that your body is failing.

When people are disabled they tend to focus on what they can’t do instead of what they can do. There is also that list of things that you shouldn’t do and my doctor often has to have words with me about doing things on that list, because while I can physically do them, they do exacerbate the fibro or the issues I have with my back. Crocheting is something I can do and it gives me something to do that not only distracts from pain, but lessens that urge to do things that I shouldn’t do because I am looking for a way to entertain myself.

The part of fibromyalgia that has been the hardest for me to deal with has been the brain fog. When it gets bad enough I joke that I need adult supervision. It’s been so bad that I have gotten lost driving to the same grocery store in the same town that I have lived in for 7 years. It makes it hard to read books because your brain can’t focus. It occasionally makes playing video games annoying because the concentration that is needed isn’t there. Crochet is repetitive and doesn’t require the same kind of concentration (however, I wouldn’t recommend the middle of a fibro flare up as the right time to learn a new stitch or tackle a complicated pattern) as many of the other things in life.

The biggest thing that I have noticed is that crochet provides good exercise for my hands. I’m not going to say that it reduces pain (medical science will tell you that exercise will reduce pain), but it does help combat the muscle and joint stiffness that comes with a combination of arthritis and fibro. For that I am grateful. I don’t drop things as much and don’t have to fight to open medicine bottles. Sometime I need to talk to the pharmacist about these child proof caps. Unless my cat knows how to open pill bottles, I don’t think they are necessary.

Crochet Concupiscence has quite a comprehensive list of blogs and articles that talk about the benefits of crochet. if you don’t believe me. Kathryn Vercillo, who runs the blog, has published books on the subject including Crochet Saved my Life and Hook to Heal.



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