I did something to my right wrist last weekend.

Maybe it was digging the potatoes out of the sack, which involved lifting the rather heavy 18” sack and partially dumping it. Maybe it was lifting the wooden tubs of annuals onto the tripods in the plant room. All involved grasping the upper edges and lifting weights that were at the limits of my legs and back, putting a good deal of sideways stress on my wrists.

Whatever did it, I finally went to see the doctor at FirstCare (a kind of emergency room type facility maintained by my doctor’s clinic) to make sure I didn’t have a fracture or sprain. The pain was bad enough by then that I had trouble driving my stick-shift car, so I thought I’d really better get it checked out.

“Have you taken anything for the pain?” was the first question.

No. I take insulin to say alive, blood pressure, cancer, and thyroid medications as my doctor prescribes, and a host of vitamin supplements to make up for the lack of sunshine and (most of the year) lack of fresh foods. I try to avoid other medications, which generally put stress on the kidneys and liver, the former being particularly vulnerable in diabetics. For that matter, I even say no to some medications my doctor suggests, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs. (My total cholesterol is a little high, but it’s mostly the HDLs, and those are not a problem.)

Interestingly, there was a sign on the wall listing drugs—mostly painkillers—that FirstCare would not prescribe. For those, they said, see your regular doctor.

The doctor agreed that my wrist was a bit inflamed, but for once he did not prescribe a pill. Instead, he gave me a couple of sample tubes of a painkiller that you massage into the skin. I was prepared to reject anything with steroids (they play merry hell with diabetes control) but this was apparently a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like aspirin or ibuprofin.

“It just gets the medication to where you need it,” the doctor said, “so that the total dose that your body has to neutralize is much lower.”

It seemed to help when he applied a dose at the clinic, but that didn’t stop me from pulling out the package insert and looking at it when I got home. Loads of warnings—but most were generic for NASIDs. The only real new warnings were of possible skin reactions.

I’m happy to report that by Friday my wrist was back to normal and I’ve stared using the gel at bedtime on my other wrist — the one with chronic pain after a wrist fracture. And so far, the skin looks fine.

I wish the drug companies would do more of this kind of targeting drugs to where they need to be.