I have reason today to meditate upon the word “tender.” Usually, I reserve its use to describe grilling chicken breasts to the perfect point of done-ness, when the meat is neither undercooked and still slightly pink, or overcooked so that it’s tough and stringy. “Tender.” Cooked through but still moist and piping hot, firm to the bite but eminently chewable … you catch my drift.
I also frequently see the word used to describe gentle affection, as in “the
mother gave her little girl a tender kiss.” Lovely. We all get that one.
And then, there’s tender. As in sore. As in … ow. That’s the best way to describe how my hands have been feeling the last few days. They’re … tender. They ache, but it’s a low-level ache, hardly worth noticing most of the time. But then there’s that tenderness… like when I pick up my coffee cup and the joints in my knuckles and fingers feel like they’re being pulled apart, with the accompanying sharp, poking pain. Ow.
Or as when I’m typing, like now. Mostly, it’s not bothering me much (or I wouldn’t be doing it). It’s just that when I stretch my fingers to reach certain keys, I get that mean, pulling sensation again. It takes my breath, forces a frown and then it’s gone.
Tender. As in painful under slight pressure.
I do get weary of the sensation. And, of course, I worry about it. This is happening while I’m taking a big handful of DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) every morning and every night. It’s happening even though I’m taking Tramadol every six hours, rarely missing a dose. It’s happening in spite of the odd Vicodin here and there, when tender turns into “holy s**t that hurts!”
And despite all the medications, anti-rheumatic, pain-killing, etc., my knuckles are still swollen. Day and night, every day.
In a few days I’m going to the lab for my quarterly blood tests. I’m really curious to see how the sedimentation rate, which measures the level of inflammation in the body, looks. It was somewhat higher (for the first time in a couple of years) last quarter. I’ll be floored if it’s not higher still, this time.
But I’ve been disappointed surprised before. Perversely, sometimes lab tests simply don’t reflect perceived pain levels or actual disease activity. I guess that’s why “healing” when applied to medicine, is an “art.”
Hmm. Two more words to meditate upon …