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This hurts to write. I mean, it literally hurts—my hands are killing me lately. This New England weather, man.

I don’t like to talk about it much, but my skeleton is basically held together with the organic equivalent of kite string and “wishing super hard.” I’ve got a condition called “Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,” one of the “hypermobility” types. It’s a one-in-tens-of-thousands genetic mutation that more or less makes me Bizarro Wolverine, if you’ll pardon my mixing of comic universes.

It hits everyone a little differently, and I’m fortunate enough not to have any of the particularly nasty kinds—the ones where blood vessels and/or organs are made of stretchy tissue paper, for example. I have a type where the only thing holding my joints in place are the joints themselves, more or less. I’ll partially dislocate things—fingers, wrists, shoulders, ankles—a couple of times a day, just by way of using them normally. The upshot is that it isn’t really painful popping something out of joint, the way it would be if I were put together right—most times I don’t notice. For example, I realized a few days ago that I hold my iPad with my left wrist partially out of joint, and I didn’t even notice. The downside is that my joints hurt, every day, for as long as I’ve known me. I take a lot of Motrin, and I carry a roll of hockey tape with me.

When I was a kid—real young—I had to sleep with metal bars binding my feet together so my hips wouldn’t be out of their sockets all night. My parents were told I’d likely never walk—not normally, anyway—but I lucked out there. A handful of years and a few bad decisions ago, it led to me wrenching up my back bad enough that a partially-herniated disc clamped off my right sciatic nerve. I walked with a limp for a couple of years. The nerve damage wasn’t bad enough that it was permanent, thankfully, but it still aches some days.

I’m not the “degenerative” type, for which I am tremendously thankful—the condition won’t get worse in and of itself. I’m not gonna wake up some morning with one arm over on the other side of the room, knock on wood. It’s gonna cause my joints to wear out a lot faster than they should. When I was twenty or so, a doctor told me I had the joints of a sixty year old. I’m thirty now.

That part scares me; my hands in particular. I need these things to get work done. It wouldn’t be abrupt, but at some point they’ll hurt too much to be useful—someday those joints will be so “old” that they’ll stop working altogether. I mean, they sure as hell aren’t gonna get any better. Every time I hear something “pop” as I reach for a key—even as we speak—it sounds an awful lot like a ticking clock.

Been colder than usual, though, this winter. That’s probably all it is, for now.

That’s probably all it is.

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