By Bill Peckham
This summer has been pretty busy at work, often summers are quieter in the tradeshow business but I had one stretch of working 19 days straight, with 60+ hour weeks. At the peak of busyness the routine was wake up, take myself off dialysis, get to work by 8, work 12 hours, get on dialysis, fall asleep, repeat. A few things did get dropped, but minimums were met: the dog was walked and fed (he goes to work with me, so he was working long hours too), the house stayed at a level of tolerable mess and I had clean socks to wear to start each day ... ahh clean socks ... Putting on clean socks in the morning is the best my feet feel all day, from then on they just hurt more and more.
My feet are the weakest link in this whole operation. By the end of a shift they are throbing. They feel like they're on fire. I think of neuropathy as the nerves being short circuited; my feet don't really hurt I tell myself ... some times it works, some times it doesn't. Instead of feeling like they're being melted by lava, why can't a neuropathy short circuit make the feet feel like they are getting a soapy massage? On the plus side my grip has been getting stronger.
Sometime in the last two years I lost my ability to snap my fingers and by this time last year my ability to grip anything was rapidly deteriorating. I blammed amyloidosis which is commonly seen in people after 20 years with stage 5 CKD, I have 23 years.
Last October when I took on the position of graphics production lead a progression of the amyloidosis in my hands was a major concern. I went bowling for the first time in years in December and couldn't grip a 12 pound ball well enough to keep it out of the gutter. I scored below 100 and for a former league bowler that was hard to take.
Now ten months later my grip strength has improved. I went bowling about a month ago and scored a respectible 150+ in both games. I could grip a standard 16 pound ball. I still can't snap my fingers but my hand strength is greatly improved. I atribute the improvement to work. Working with my hands has reversed the stiffening I was expereincing.
Work is improving my overall fitness too. Standing instead of sitting has its own benefits but I am not just standing. I'm moving. Reaching, stretching, lifting. It's a healthier lifestyle than a desk job. I can feel my body responding to being needed, getting stronger as it gets used.
I spent a lot of the oughts sitting at a computer. I enjoyed it but it came with a silent price. Working with my hands, making things, comes with silent dividends.