Chutes And Ladders

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

Chutes and LaddersWhen Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy was a little kid, he loved board games. Board games ruled, even with their lost parts and all! The cardboard boxes that squished under the weight of air were a classic (leading to even more lost parts, as the stack of board games fell over anytime you tried to pull one out).

Don’t forget that this the 1970’s, back when “video game” referred to either Pong or some small hand held device with about six red LEDs and and an audio device that could produce nothing other than really annoying beeps. (I had hockey and my brother had football, but except for the lines painted on the screen they were exactly the same.)

Some of the board games required lots of skill, whereas others were won based purely upon luck and the roll of the die. There was never a thing as spending “too much time”, playing board games. This was partly based upon the fact that whenever you lost a game, you immediately changed the rules to “two out of three”.

One of my favorite board games was so full of suspense, yet so simple. Chutes and Ladders. (Some people may know it as Snakes and Ladders.) In order to win, you needed only to be the first person to reach the last square. Along the way you could land on a ladder, which allowed you to climb up and gain spaces. You could also land on a chute, which forced you to slide down and lose spaces. Rarely was getting from start to finish a linear process, instead you continually went up and down along the way.

As I look back on this game, I being to realize what a  wonderful metaphor it is for living with rheumatoid arthritis. I haven’t been sharing too many details of the day to day progression of my RA, but lust let me say that there have been lots of ups and there have been lots of downs. (Luckily, the ups have outnumbered the downs.)

In the past, I often used to get discouraged whenever my “recovery” was not a steady straight line of improvement. Whenever I woke up and it felt like things had (once again) taken a turn for the worse, I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel.

During these past two months, however, I can’t say that I have particularly enjoyed the flares that continue to pop up – but I have definitely learned to make the most out of them. If I’m sliding down, I might as well throw my head back and enjoy the breeze as it passes through my hair. (By the way, I’ve yet to experience any hair loss from my meds…yes!!!)

Once I get to the bottom, I will have ample opportunity to get back on my feet and climb back up the ladder.

Three steps forward and two steps back can sometimes seem like a strange way to move forward, especially in this modern world that is so fascinated with “efficiency”. I’d rather think of it, though, as going up and down chutes and ladders. After all, who didn’t enjoy coasting down the slide on the playground when they were a little kid?

(On a personal note, I’ve had lots of experience falling down slides. Once of my earliest home videos – 8mm back then – shows me cautiously climbing up the backyard slide. I was so young I was still in diapers. I reach the top and stand up with pride. The video stops suddenly, and when it starts again I’m lying on the grass crying my head off. I had just taken one of my first major tumbles!)

As long as I don’t hit that one mega-long slide that everyone was always afraid of in Chutes and Ladders, everything will be okay. But if my luck does happen to send me down this chute, I won’t forget that amongst all the ladders on the board, there was also that mega-tall ladder!

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!