This is my hand. My left hand to be specific. It's not pretty, I know. All bony with big knuckles and crookedy fingers but hey, it's mine. Actually it looks very much like my Nana's hands. Which makes sense, genetics and all. But you probably have noticed something missing. Where are my pretty rings?
Well it's the oddest thing. A few months ago, I started developing a rash under my rings. It was very uncomfortable but I soldiered on until my fingers swelled badly from the irritation and I had to use the dishsoap method to get the ring off. Once finally free of the ring, I saw that the skin was raw, inflamed and there were horrid blisters not only on the area that was under the ring but where the ring rubbed against the pinky and middle finger as well. So I left the rings off until it healed and cleaned the ring really well. My thought was that something I was sensitive too had gotten trapped under the rings. Maybe some liquid soap or moisturizer?
Once healed to just looking a bit like dry skin, I tried wearing the rings again with an almost immediate reaction. Bizarre! So essentially I just stopped wearing the rings except for a few hours here and there on Occasions. Like when we renewed our vows, or gatherings when we are meeting new people, doctor appointments, etc. And each time the results are the same. Obviously the shorter the period of time the rings are worn, the less severe the reaction but still quite unpleasant.
I did a little research (naturally). Apparently it's not all that uncommon to suddenly develop a sensitivity to the metals in the ring. Nickel is the usual culprit, it seems. Gold is too soft on it's own so other metals are alloyed with it to make it hard enough to wear. But why would I suddenly develop a sensitivity to nickel? Well, environmental changes can effect how nickel affects me, or so I've read. The salt air, the strange Florida water, the humidity, etc....any of these or perhaps a combination of these things has caused this problem. Or so the first research revealed. And further, they claimed, there is nothing that can be done about it. Story over. The end.
Unsatisfied with that first bit of reading I continued to look. Another site claims that perhaps if I paint the inside of the rings with clear nail polish that creates a barrier between my skin and the metal. That might would work (although it would have to be re-applied frequently) on the wedding band, but the engagement ring would be a lot trickier. Look on the inside of any ring with multiple gemstones. There is actually very little metal touching the skin, just a perimeter of metal with the gemstones set into it. Hmmmm. The idea of starting down that longer repeater highway didn't wow me. And if it didn't work, how would I get the polish back off? Polish remover? What would that do to the metal? Any other options, I wondered?
Further research showed another possibility. By boiling the ring gently in a 2 part vinegar 1 part hydrogen peroxide solution for 30 minutes, allowing it to cool completely then thoroughly rinsing and cleaning with a new soft toothbrush is supposed to remove any trapped particles in microscopic holes/cracks/grooves in the metal and get rid of the cause of the irritation in the first place. Hmmmmmm. I use vinegar rinse to clean my glass things and it does make it sparkly, so I'm sure the diamonds will be superclean if I do this. But boiling sounds severe, which makes it kind of scary to consider. If I ruin my rings there is no going back.
Other articles state clearly that once the metal has broken down enough that the nickel salts are being released, there is nothing that can be done. The jewelry will always affect a person sensitive to nickel resulting in this nasty dermatitis. Well, that's not good!
Haven't decided what, if anything, to do. The rings represent something that is so important to me. My marriage! I have proudly worn that wedding band for more than 23 year now. The engagement ring actually came a few years later. We were not in the best position financially when we got married so I had to decide which was more important to me, a house or a ring. Well that was no contest, a house! Honestly, the wedding band was the important ring to me. The pretty sparkling diamonds that shine from an engagement ring were appealing but not essential. The wedding band was. It didn't feel like sacrifice at all.
Tim surprised me with the engagement ring a few years later when things were a little better for us in the money department. But I was delighted with his surprise and wore it every day. I put the diamond ring on in the morning and took it off at night, but the wedding band, I never removed. Maybe that's the problem. I have literally worn it out!
Well, for now, until I make some sort of decision, I will continue just not wearing either ring and allow my fingers to heal, once again. I'm not any less married with the rings in a box. Tim is no less important to me without them on. But I miss them. And it does make me a little bit sad.
If anyone has any other ideas than what I have already read, please do let me know!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.