Saturday, 10 September 2016


Mazagon: rhymes with pain-be-gone?

We finally tore ourselves away from our snug anchorage in the Ria Formosa and continued on our journey with a light 8 to 10 knots in the nose, zigzagging our way to Mazagon.  The cargo traffic at the entrance of the channel was impressive but there was enough room for everyone (but our AIS system was very handy to see who was moving and who wasn’t…).  The marina is large and modern and we discovered a grocery store that delivers at the top of the hill in the town. 

We used Mazagon as a base to visit Huelva.  We had no intention of visiting Huelva, but I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and had to go to a clinic there.

When we began this blog, we said we would tell it like it is, warts and all.  We’ve been open and transparent about most of our sailing life, but as a rule, we don’t like to whine. (Well, okay, whining about sailing matters is what the blog is all about, but personal matters are a different story). 

I began having pain and stiffness in my hands a few months ago.  Normal, I thought, since we use (abuse) our hands a lot on the boat.  In Lisbon, we took the time to go to a clinic because I started losing feeling in my thumb and index finger.  The diagnosis was a contracted muscle that was compressing a nerve, and I was given anti-inflammatory drugs to take.  The situation improved.  Two weeks ago, the pain returned in both hands and fingers, and closer inspection showed bony nodules on 3 knuckles.  Certain movements give me sharp pain that takes my breath away, and by the end of each day, two of my fingers are more-or-less useless.

Honestly, don't know what to look for...
We went to another clinic in Huelva, the biggest city next to the port of Mazagon.  The doctor only spoke Spanish, but with the help of a few of the secretaries who knew some English and French, we managed to get through an exam and x-rays:  rheumatoid arthritis and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands (seems to be a buy-one get-one free deal).  In a flash, I remembered with horror the deformed hands of my great aunt Ruby, and stories of my aunt Caroline who couldn’t get out of bed some mornings before her treatment made life manageable again.  Both of my parents have undergone surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome in the last years. 

My treatment: more anti-inflammatory drugs, some light drugs to stop the deterioration (Chondrosulf), and some mega-vitamins that supposedly target carpel tunnel problems (so says the doctor… I’m not a big believer in vitamin supplements for someone who eats a well-balanced diet.  I’m not too sure this Chondrosulf stuff is very effective, either).  I’m told I’ll feel better in 1 month once all the supplements have time to kick in.  In the meantime, the doctor suggested that I not put my hands under any stress or tension.  Right.

Normally, I wouldn’t complain about or even divulge health problems, but this one directly affects our sailing life.  The winch is my new best friend, and I’ll need to rely on it more often now instead of just giving a good tug with my bare hands as I normally do when something needs a small adjustment.  Little by little, I’m finding new techniques to get the job done with minimum stress.  Still, it does put a crimp in things and I try not to think too much about the future right now.  I’ll get a more thorough diagnosis when I get home, and yes, I’m going to try a gluten-free diet.  The good news I’ve found is that gin is supposed to be helpful for arthritis.  Always search for those bright spots…


Astrolabe Sailing said...

Ouch! Poor you. I hope the medicines work.

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Astrolabe. I think it will be a long slow process, but I'm hopeful.