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American Sign Language: "ASL and Arthritis"



In a message dated 4/1/2004 6:48:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ldalzell@_____ writes:

Dr. Bill,
You mention many times on your website to pick a dominant hand and go with it for signing one handed things. I have arthritis in my dominant hand and some days have to fingerspell with the other- is it better to  retrain that hand to spell more efficiently or switch to it only on bad days?

Dear Laurie,

1. Do both. Retrain your hand to spell more efficiently, and only switch to it on bad days. :)  It is up to you. Not a big deal either way.  I recommend though that you don't switch back and forth during the same conversation because that would become a distraction.  But if it is a matter of switching back and forth or not communicating, then by all means communicate in whatever fashion works for you.

2. The real issue here is your arthritis. Are you aggressively fighting your arthritis? Ask yourself:
- Have you read at least 10 books on the topic?
- Have you invested in a paraffin wax bath for your hands?
- Do you stretch your hands in careful but deliberate ways that extend the muscles and ligaments?
- Do you take a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral?
- Are you taking glucosamine.
- Are you taking fish oil capsules and/or flax seed oil? ( Provides eicosapentaenoic acid)
- Are you working up a sweat at least three times a week? I mean breathing hard and actually breaking into a mild sweat?

If you aren't doing the above then you should seriously consider doing so.
You don't need to spend an arm and a leg on this stuff either. Go to a dollar store and look for glucosamine in the "health section." Also look for huge paraffin candles that you can melt down for a wax bath for your hands (study up on this so you don't burn your hands). Buy fish oil capsules at your grocery store, Sam's Club, or Costco (ask for a one day "pass") in the biggest bottle you can and store it in the fridge so you get the lowest cost per pill.

I know you didn't write me for health advice, but the REAL answer to your problem is to solve your arthritis issue. Note: My doctorate is in Education, NOT in medicine, so, if I had a lawyer I'm sure he'd tell me to tell you that you'd best check with your medical doctor before starting any exercise program, immersing your hands into wax, or taking any supplement that might conflict with current medications.

Dr. Bill
p.s. Doing ASL is generally considered therapeutic for arthritis because it promotes circulation and movement.  You might want to check into the possibility of having your doctor "prescribe" your ASL classes--thus enabling you to deduct the cost of your classes, books, and travel as medical expenses.  Ask your "tax advisor" about this.


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