When Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy started blogging on a daily basis, he wondered if he was going to be able to maintain this pace. Who was I kidding? My adventures with rheumatoid arthritis continue to provide me more than enough stories and issues to write about, and I have yet to encounter even the slightest bit of writer’s block.
Sometimes I write my posts at the crack of dawn, minutes before I publish them. Other times I write them them the night before, before I go to sleep. And yet at other times I have some many issues floating around my head (it should come as no surprise that rheumatoid arthritis like to multi-task), that I have multiple drafts in my queue, ready to publish day by day.
Whenever I am dealing with a particular difficult aspect of living with rheumatoid arthritis, writing about that issue takes priority. Sometimes it can be when I am dealing with depression and at other times it can be when I am struggling with anger.
The post that I had planned to publish this past Monday continues to be postponed. I am happy to say, however, that this recent delay is a result not of bad news, but of extremely good news.
Those people who follow me on Twitter might have seen my message that I sent out on Monday night: “Today was my best day in weeks. Actually had about 30 minutes of no pain – first time in months!”
My Monday morning started off like so many others, and the pain and inflammation gradually progressed throughout the day. As I started to get ready for my afternoon session of physical therapy, I had to ask for help in putting on my shirt, sweatshirt, and jacket since my shouders were in so much pain that I could not lift my arms over my head.
At least my feet and knees are doing surprisingly well, I told myself.
(As I rode to the doctor’s office, Irene Cara’s Flashdance was playing on the radio. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say that my mental image of myself included a chair and lots of wet hair!)
As my physical therapist applied ultrasound to my shoulders, she commented on how surprised she was that the swelling was going down so quickly – she had never seen any of my joints react so quickly. Wow, I thought – what’s going on? We also applied low-laser therapy to all of the smaller joints on my fingers, which were slightly inflamed and in pain.
As I walked out of the center, I was struck with how silent the surrounding neighborhood was – the only sounds that could be heard was some birds chirping. And then it struck me – my body was absolutely silent as well. I scanned all of my joints, and not one of them was experiencing pain! It felt like I was forgetting something – when in fact the only thing I had left behind was my rheumatoid arthritis.
I took a short taxi ride home, and once I entered the house I announced that I was indeed completely pain free. I counted the months since the last time I had experienced even a minute without pain, and ended up with nine months.
Half an hour later the symptoms returned, but not nearly to the intensity or duration with which they have presented themselves with – even as recently as this past Sunday.
I went to sleep thinking that no matter how short or long this turn of events lasted, the important thing was that I was given a complete break for the first time in months.
Yesterday morning I was in bed reading and surfing the web, when I realized that I felt great. I looked at the clock on my nightstand and realized that there was still time to get ready and go to yoga – I had already gotten used to not even considering going to exercise in the mornings. (I had missed class the past two weeks.)
Off to yoga I went. I completed the entire routine without over-exerting myself. I even worked up a sweat. (It’s vinyasa yoga.) As I returned home later in the morning, I waited for the pain and swelling in my ankles and wrists to return. I’m still waiting.
Later during the afternoon, which is usually one of the worst times of the day, I did have some pain in my knees and elbows – but it lasted minutes instead of hours. For the first time in more than two months I left the house without my crutches. (I did take my cane, just in case…) I walked the rest of the day with a slight spring in my step. It felt like shock-absorbers had been installed overnight into all of my joints.
I had forgotten what my body felt like…over close to almost a year, all that I have felt was pain. To be honest it felt like a part of me was missing, but I decided that this was one loss I was not going to mourn and the best thing to do was reacquaint myself with my body.
People are already asking me what I did in order to provoke such a drastic improvement. I’d love to be able to say that is was this or that specific thing – but since I can’t, I’ll write about what I think has helped me the most during the past few months.
Many of you know that on top of visiting my rheumatologist once a month, I also do physical therapy and acupuncture on a regular basis. I visit my psychologist once a week, and I meditate at home when my pain is at its worst. Just recently my doctor and I tried out a handful of different NSAIDS to see which one helped the most. I am three weeks into an elimination diet, and I recently started taking high doses of fish oil. I write every day about my struggles, and in opening up I allow others to enter into my world and provide me support. I take Rescue Remedy during particularly rough times. Which of these things help more more than others? I have no clue. What I do know is that taken together, they ALL help me.
“This Is Never Going To End”
One of my biggest rules during the past few months has been not allowing myself to think “this is never going to end”. I had done so many times in the past, and I now know from experience that this thought pattern only leads me to lower lows, and increases my feelings of desperation. Whenever this thought even begins to creep into my mind, I immediately cancel it out and replace it with “This too will pass”. Doing so has been difficult at times, but it is a rule that I will continue to live by.
I like to think that I have humiliated my rheumatoid arthritis into submission. It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I often turn the tables on my RA and make fun of it. Sometimes it’s Bingo, other times it’s Survivor, and yet other times it’s Joints Gone Wild. It’s all too easy to feel humiliated by my rheumatoid arthritis when it begins to limit my mobility and when it sends me on an emotional and physical roller coaster. But no matter what, I will continue to laugh at my rheumatoid arthritis, and I won’t let it laugh at me.
I hope this feeling continues to last, but I will continue to go to sleep each night without expectations of what the following day should bring. This has worked well for me in the past, so why change it now?
And even if I should once again experience symptoms of RA sooner that I like, I will find comfort in knowing that every now and then, I can still have a great day like yesterday.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!