If ($Everything != ‘RA’)

Not Always As They Seem

“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.”
-Phaedrus, Roman Poet

Rheumatoid Arthrhtis Guy has come to a couple of new realizations during this past week. The first one is that it’s often all too easy to blame every ache and pain on rheumatoid arthritis. The second one is that it’s all too easy to think that every ache and pain is an indicator of a imminent relapse into another major flare.

I’m learning – little by little – to take a step back, take a deep breath, and wait to see what happens. As the common saying goes, things are not always what they seem to be.

Just last week I had an short episode of moderate pain in my hands and feet. As I have previously written, this was the most intense pain I had experienced in the previous few weeks. Almost immediately, I got scared and told myself that this was the start of another episode of intense pain and inflammation. Deep back inside my mind, the thought “I am not ready to deal with this again so soon” was bouncing around like a screen saver in overdrive.

But by the next day, things were better – and I realized that my worst fear at the moment (relapsing back into a major flare) was not to be…at least for the moment.

(Only the day before, I would have bet the house otherwise.)

The initial diagnosis I received from my first rheumatologist was more closely related to ankylosing spondylitis, so the possibility that my arthritis might affect my back has often crossed my mind. (My diagnosis has since been moved to a more “typical” rheumatoid arthritis.)

So when I started having some major pain in my upper back and neck last November, I was convinced that my rheumatoid arthritis had grabbed hold of these joints. I felt like I was on a see-saw with AS (ankylosing spondylitis) on one end and RA (rheumatoid arthritis) on the other end. Won’t it just make up it’s mind?

Low and behold, doctors determined that the muscles surrounding my upper spine had been damaged and were slightly torn.

(Little did I tell them that only the month before, I had started practicing unsupported headstands in my yoga class.)

Oops! What I was dealing with had nothing to do with my rheumatoid arthritis, and had everything to do with pushing myself too quickly as I started to learn this advanced yoga posture.

Yesterday morning I stayed home from the gym. When I woke up in the morning, I struggled to get out of bed and walk across the room. Anyone who saw me would have immediately come to the assumption that my rheumatoid arthritis was once again acting up.

The truth to the matter was that my sciatic nerve was inflamed. As this large nerve passes from the lower back through the buttock into the upper leg, the smallest movement caused jolts of pain to pass through the entire left side of my body.

I either slept one night in a twisted position or pulled it while exercising. Whatever the cause, it will more than likely heal itself in the coming days.

And it a weird sort of way, it was sort of nice to be limping around for a reason that is completely unrelated to my rheumatoid arthritis. It reminds me that my body is about much more than just RA, although many times it does not seem so.

I’ve been doing a lot of web development coding during the past few days. The title of this post is how I would write “everything is not equal to RA,” in the PHP language that I am using. Maybe I’ll jot this down on a post-it note and place it on my desk, in order to remind myself that everything is indeed not equal to RA!

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

8 Comments
8 comments
  1. Kelly says:

    It took me a while to learn that lesson, too! RA can be all encompassing that you forget other things can happen. Often my friends and family always blame RA and I have to remind them that “normal” pain is possible.

  2. Christina says:

    This is a very timely topic! Ever since my RA diagnosis, I tend to overreact to any kind of symptoms I may be having as related to the RA. I think this is because I ignored the RA symptoms for so many years thinking I was just a wimp because doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. Now, if I have any kind of odd symptoms I tend to “google” symptoms too often to only discover all kinds of scary and horrible diseases that send me straight to the doctor in fear of diagnosis…LOL. It is nice to know that not EVERYTHING is related to RA…I have to give it enough attention as it is!

  3. Millicent says:

    LOVE the picture & caption!!! I am also guilty of “jumping the gun” & thinking the worst & going into a panic too quickly.

  4. Pollyanna Penguin says:

    I am absolutely the same regarding the R.A. In fact for ages I couldn’t work out why my RA seemed so different to the typical, only to discover recently that it’s because I have fibromyalgia as well. I’m now learning to tell the R.A. apart from the fibromyalgia, the possible gall bladder problems, the suspected swine flu etc. etc. etc.! And the good news is – my R.A. is definitely under control right now! Yay. Now if I could just get the rest of me sorted …

    Loved the cartoon!

  5. Lissa says:

    How very true that, that every little ache and pain is – or so we like to believe.

    I’ve been getting a sore back off and on for the past few months, and the little fear monster inside my head keeps whispering, “The RA has finally attacked your back, and before you know it, you’ll be flat on it!” But since it’s usually only sore during moments of physical activity, I think it’s far more likely that it’s just caused by the lack of muscle tone and strength, which in turn, is cause by too many years of “butt glued to chair” syndrome! Either that or it’s all in my head, since it’s most noticeable when I am doing housework! Hope your sciatica gets better soon!

  6. Michelle says:

    When i woke up with a sore back a few weeks ago, I automatically thought that “this is it…I have RA in my back now!” How easily I forgot that I had been jumping up and down at a Def Leppard concert!! I love the times when the RA is so under control that you forget that you have it and let your inner-healthy self get out and just have a good time. When aches and pains are self-induced and related to something that you actually did.

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