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Scrolling through my facebook feed, I came across a question being asked in one of the business forums I am a part of. What jewellery do you wear? Simple question, but it pointed out the differences between myself and others without arthritic hands.

I am lucky that even though the arthritis is active in all my finger joints, my right thumb is the only one showing significant deformity. Due to the arthritic activity, I choose not to wear rings on my fingers as they become too uncomfortable when my fingers do swell and knowing me, I would take the ring off and leave it in a safe place somewhere, taking forever to remember where that safe place was.

When the arthritis first started in my hands when I was 6 or 7. I remember playing handball at school and striking the ball at an odd angle. The pain was significant and instant, as was the swelling. Not wanting to worry mum with something else, I didn’t tell her, instead I iced the joint and hoped it would be nothing more than a sprain. A few days later mum noticed the joint was swollen, I will never forget the look on her face. The look of fear mixed with devastation while trying not to show it. Not long after we were on a plane flying back to Perth for another round of steroid injections.

Not long after, the rheumatology team decided to splint my thumb so that it would fuse in a ‘functional position’. They have been successful to a degree, it stays out of the way, and the pain is no longer there. Both positives 🙂

As the arthritis has progressed I have found ways to alleviate the pain and I believe the deformity. My mum was adamant that I do activities that would maintain the dexterity in my finger joints. She bought me a nintendo playstation, my grade 5 teacher taught me cross stitch and I learnt how to strap the joints to allow them to rest until the flare had passed.

My physio when I was a kid mentioned a company called the silver ring splint company who make splints for fingers that look like jewellery. I never went down that road, but may look to do so in future. It’s handy to know that there are companies around that can make something such as hand splints look fashionable 🙂

But in answer to the question posted in the forum, I wear a watch (ICE watch in my favourite teal colour), a toe ring on my right foot and an anklet – also on my right foot.

I was often asked when I was at boarding school why I would wear a toe ring and the anklet on my right foot. I told them it was to reduce the embarrassment of the people that would stare at the deformities on my left foot. If they were caught looking, and they felt uncomfortable, I would strike up conversation about the toe ring, or the anklet, and it would often alleviate the awkwardness.

What jewellery do you wear?

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