Arthritic fingers/hands; Should I pull a Bob Dole?

claire_de_lunaMarch 22, 2007

I've had opportunities to meet a lot of people lately, and I'm starting to flinch when they put out their hand to shake mine. I'd like to offer my hand, but it's been painful attempting this form of greeting and I don't quite know what to do. I've been thinking about pulling a Bob Dole and stuffing my hand under my arm, or Howie Mandel who offers up his knuckled hand. What would you do in this instance? I hate the idea of having to explain every single time, yet I'd like to keep what limited mobility I have left in my fingers. yikes...What should I do?

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Pondering your question got me into reviewing alternate greetings I've experienced.... One comes to mind:

Move first and rather than extend a hand to shake, touch/tap/clasp their right arm lightly with your right hand around the elbow, while speaking their name, etc. Kind of draws one into the exchange. I've felt it to be a pleasant, open and intimate pause to connect. I think it can work quite well and might get you through those introductions. With no risk of hand sqaushing and no explanations.

No clue what to do if they extend a hand first....or if it is a group of 6...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 12:15AM
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Most people don't give knuckle-crushing shakes, so what about telling the people who do exactly what you think. Say, "ouch--I have arthritic hands, please don't grip my hand so tightly." Some people need to learn a lesson.

Howie Mandel is just plain weird and a germophobe. Please don't use him as an example of anything.

I like Celticmoon's idea of preventative motions!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 9:25AM
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celticmoon, that sounds like a probable alternative if it's one person. Last night I met a guy my DH knew from work and his family, and it would have been difficult to make that manuver. Unfortunately a firm handshake feels bone crushing to me any more (all this rain we're having isn't helping.) I just hate the idea of people needing to learn a lesson at my expense!

I know Howie's a germophobe (even if he's weird) yet he's worked out the greeting thing to some degree for himself. I need to figure out a way to somehow do the same, in an awkward situation. What I really want to do when there's people to meet and greet is stick both hands under my armpits!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 11:39AM
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Along the lines of alternative actions, when I've got a cold or something and I don't want to shake someone's hand I kind of keep my hand close and shake it up and down, make a little joke as in "here's a virtual handshake; I don't want you to get sick"...The other person will usually joke along and do a virtual handshake as well and it's a connection of a different sort rather than a refusal. It's humorous, and maybe not as formal as necessary in some situations (I don't find myself in a lot of formal situations recently), but you could maybe use it in the less formal could make a joke of it, say "my rheumatis' is actin' up--here's a virtual handshake" or something a bit silly to ease the transition.

You know, come to think of it, I think I unconsciously got it from someone I used to work with. I had a supervisor who had a *severe* case of rheumatoid arthritis and she would do the virtual handshake too. She was an upper east sider, married to an internationally prestigious heart surgeon...she was a southern steel magnolia and didn't mind laughing at herself at any moment. Quite a person.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 3:08PM
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OK, Flyleft, I can do that. Thanks for an ''alternative action'' and way to explain, with a smile.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 6:19PM
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Great :) I learned a lot from Susan (my former supervisor). She's passed now, but she'd be glad to know she helped.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:44AM
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You can always do the fingertip thing - lightly touch just your fingertips to the other person's hand, as if expecting them to kiss the back of your hand, or just lightly grasp their index finger with your fingertips. Of course the other person will find it strange and annoying, but maybe you'd prefer that to the alternatives.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 1:16PM
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Claire, "pull a Bob Dole", ha, ha, ha! How about do a limp slide across quickly while making up for it with your brightest smile!

Also - some forms of arthritis might be helped by a chiropractor.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 5:15PM
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I have this problem at times too, good ideas, but I hate having to explain why all the time too even if it is in a joking manner.

Would sort of an "asian" greeting work? Ie a slight bow of the upper body while "saying nice to meet you"?

What does others think?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 8:03PM
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lyfia, that's an interesting idea. I think I feel I would have to explain, especially when someone has stuck out their hand first! Usually I hope a grin and slight nod of the head will be acknowledgment enough, but it doesn't always turn out that way. Have you tried it? Has it worked for you?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 1:30PM
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Claire, no haven't tried it. I've been lucky and not have to shake many hands as of late. I do have experience in the head nod not working at times.

The hand out already is a hard one. I guess that is where the joking would do. I'll have to test some of these out soon.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:06PM
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I don't have any suggestions but just wanted to be sure you saw this related thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jessyf's thread

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 8:51AM
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I don't have arthritis, but I don't like to shake people's hands if my hand is wet, say from holding a glass. So I extend my left hand, and say, "Sorry my other hand's wet." I have noticed that this slows down the handshake and prevents the "lock" of a right hand handshake. Perhaps you could modify your explanation with pausing, extending your left hand, and saying "Sorry my other hand's totally out of commission." Hopefully this will make people realize that you do want to be friendly, but not in a firm way. Also, by doing the left handshake, you are in control as the other person pauses instead of plowing ahead. There is actually more of a connection with the joking and apology.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 11:29PM
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adoptedbygreyhounds, yes, I've read Jessy's thread with interest. As much as I could relate, I didn't have anything to share! I did have to go back to Office Max yesterday after buying a hanging file for my desk that I couldn't adjust (even with tools) to have them help me. (DH is out of town.)

Rachel, that's an idea I may have to try; thanks for suggesting it!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 12:00PM
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