Dec 232014

This photo shows why I haven’t been able to take photos lately.

Inclusion body myositis has left my hands weak and disfigured.

Inclusion body myositis has left my hands weak and disfigured.

Recently I have not had much to say. No, let me correct that. I have not been saying much. I do have a lot to talk about, however I am trying to make some more adaptations to keep up with the progress inclusion body myositis is making on my body. The effects are especially noticeable on my hands and fingers, shoulders, and the ability to speak, sing and swallow. I recently got approval to go on home health and have started receiving regular visits from a speech therapist, occupational therapist and physical therapist.

Not only are my hands and fingers week, they are nearly frozen in one position. this has caused me to temporarily give up photography altogether. Some of you may recall that in the beginning I was using either my iPhone camera or my GoPro camera which was controlled by my iPhone using the GoPro app. I can no longer hold the iPhone in my hand and use my other hand to touch the screen, so that rules out both of those methods of taking pictures. My occupational therapist is working with me to try to find a system that will solve this. When he does (and I am sure he will; he is very clever and persistent) I will do an article about the method used.

My occupational therapist is also working with me to expand upon a scheme I devised to restore some movement in my fingers. I played the piano from the age of three. It was one of my great pleasures and a favorite method of relaxation. IBM took that away from me several years ago. There is a piano in the common area at my assisted-living facility and occasionally I peck away with the one finger of my right hand that is still strong enough to press a key. So I decided to purchase an electronic keyboard, a Yamaha PSR E443, that would always be waiting for me in the “office” of my assisted-living apartment. My theory was that I would be so motivated to produce music that I would play it often and perhaps expand my ability to move the fingers on my right hand. Even more ambitious, I was hoping to be able to use at least one finger on my left hand to take advantage of the auto accompaniment function of the keyboard. However, the extreme weakness of my left shoulder prevents me from using my left hand unless I lean to the right and lock my shoulder in place. Doing that leaves me unable to use my right hand. After working with my keyboard about one month, my right hand acquired enough dexterity that I can play two notes at once using the index and middle finger and then add a third note with my thumb. This is a major increase in hand function and it is also paying off with things as simple as picking up an object from my desk. I am also now able to use two fingers on my left hand, although I have not been able to overcome the problem of lifting that hand and using it in conjunction with my right hand. My occupational therapist believes this is a therapy worth pursuing and he is now working on a system that might allow me to make more use of my left hand by supporting my left arm and leaving my hand free to move. If this works out, it will also be the subject of a blog post.

My physical therapist is trying to loosen up my neck muscles which are so tight that I can no longer turn my head enough to see behind me. This is a big problem when you need to back up a 350 pound wheelchair. My speech therapist is working with me on strengthening the muscles used for swallowing and is teaching me ways to avoid further damage to my weakened vocal cords.

Early next year, I will let you know how everything is going. Meanwhile I wish you all a good holiday season and an even better New Year.

  8 Responses to “My Hands are Holding Me Up”

  1. Mike, when I started reading this, I felt so bad for you ( and my husband’s future). I should have known better. You consistently give us good information and hope. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your knowledge.
    Maureen, wife of Jacj who has IBM

  2. Thank you for posting, Mike. I’ve wondered why we haven’t heard from you in some time but am glad you’ve still got that brain the positive attitude front and center. You are an inspiration to us all. Sandy Block

  3. thanks for posting Mike! Although I am not nearly as advanced in the progression of IBM as you are, like all the others, I know it’s coming. So I thank you for everything you post… it heartens me to know that there is hope – even when the struggle is very much overwhelming. I pray that you too have a wonderful Christmas & New Year holidays…. and that you might find yourself wonderfully blessed in the year to come.

  4. I love your spirit Mike. You’re not quitting.I always enjoy your blogs and have a copy of your book that I hope to read again soon.
    Merry Christmas….Jim Van Dam

  5. Mike, as usual – you have the determination, will power and brain power to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. Merry Christmas!

  6. You are truly an inspiration to me and many others. Thank you. My husband has IBM and is dealing with many of the same things you are. You give me hope. May God bless you and strengthen you.

  7. Mike, as usual you are tackling the new hurdles with grace and dignity and your unique McIver attitude, BRAVO! You are one of the reasons I keep plugging and finding my way through this IBM maze. Thank you so much for setting such an exceptional example.

    May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through, Merry Christmas!


  8. Happy New Year, Mike !! Glad to see your spirit hasn’t been diminished by these new challenges. You consistently provide insight into how to over come the daily challenges of IBM. I don’t know know when I’ll get to that stage(my hands are starting to cramp up into a similar position) but know that you have met the challenge and there are solutions and help. Carry on, my friend – look forward to the new articles.


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