Many things change after 55…

“Over 55? Try our new brand of joint formula and join hundreds of thousands of other happy arthritis sufferers.” Many things change after 55 but this advert sticks out like a sore thumb. My knuckles have been a little achy of late and they all seem to have thickened.

“Oh, I used to have beautiful hands, you know,” said the patient in my physiotherapy practice. “I know you wouldn’t think so, but my fingers were once long and slender.” We dipped her joints into the warm wax bath and started the treatment session. “Can’t wear my rings anymore. The middle joint is too thick now and then the rings just swivel and the diamond lands up in my palm! I’m afraid it’s just a plain band for me now.”

Ageing female fingers can prove to be dangerous. Take my friend, for instance. She and her elderly mother were travelling in the city and her mother indicated that she take the next ramp off the highway. “That way!” she said, pointing. My friend headed in that direction only to be scolded. “Why did you turn there? I said THAT way!” They both looked at her pointing finger. It veered 45 degrees to the right. They were following an arthritic finger straight into a dodgy side of town.

I have a teacher friend. She says her pointing finger problem is hereditary. “My mother’s finger also curved to the left after her 55th birthday,” she confided. After confusing her pupils to the point of pandemonium, she was compelled to use her thumb to point in the classroom. It’s the only option as she still has 10 more years until retirement.

The French say they can tell a woman’s age by the outside of her hand. True. Anything over 55 is spotted, wrinkled, veined and easily bruised. I say that you can also know us by our knuckles. We can probably peel, Botox and use other treatments to the outside of our hands but I have yet to hear of cosmetic knuckle narrowing surgery.

In my 30 years of practice, I’ve noticed that men are quite proud of their misshapen fingers and even prouder of a few missing ones. Probably proves they have been worked. Strangely, women have more arthritic fingers than men. Not sure why. Older women counteract by painting their nails to deflect attention. Some women wear a few rings on each finger in absolute disregard of the direction of their fingers. An elderly woman at the checkout yesterday sparkled as she unpacked her shopping trolley. Shiny rings dazzled on fingers, which veered in different directions. A bit like a Christmas tree, she displayed and celebrated her sparkle despite the constraints of her “branches”.

Perhaps I’ll force a few more rings over these knuckles. My local jeweller specialises in emergency ring removal. He’s on call at the hospital when they need to remove embedded rings. Been to Bali a few times courtesy his sideline removal business. The only expense was a counselling course on “How to Separate Howling and Protesting Patients from their Rings”.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I need to take a second look at that miracle joint formula. I may even buy the joint gel. Whatever it takes to keep long-term bejewelled fingers within my grasp.

Image – Getty