Wake Up Call

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

telephoneRheumatoid Arthritis Guy received a wake up call very early this morning – at 4 a.m, to be exact. The funny thing is that I don’t recall having placed such a wake up call with the front desk…but when I stay at the RA Hotel, I never know what might happen!

Sure, I’m quite used to receiving minor disturbances during the night when I stay at this hotel. Sometimes, while tossing around during the night, I realize that RA had a party in my room and didn’t invite me…but definitely left me a big mess to clean up. Last night was different, though. I’m talking full bugle-blaring-in-my-ears wake up call. The Goldberg’esque wake up contraption that starts each episode of Wallace and Gromit couldn’t have done a better job…except instead of being dropped into a chair at the dining room and having my breakfast served to me (as if), it felt like I was dropped onto a concrete sidewalk.

No one ever said that being a superhero was going to be an easy job. The worst part, I have to admit, are the hours. I’ve even tacked up a sign on my home office door that says:

Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy
8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

But RA never seems to pay much attention to this sign…it calls whenever it wants to. And last night, it called at 4 a.m.

I guess this is as good a time as any to point out that even though I have made great strides during this past week in regards to my emotional health…my physical health once again seems to be spinning out of control. In addition to appearing where it always shows up first: feet, ankles, knees, hands, wrists, and elbows – this time around it seems to be spreading further. (Unfortunately, RA is not like mayo…the more it spreads, the thicker it actually gets!)

Last week I noticed that it had started venturing into my hips….it never even seemed to have noticed the existence of my hips before, so this was a somewhat ominous sign. And then, two nights ago, it started attacking my shoulders…so much so that for the first time ever, I could see visible signs of swelling and redness in my shoulders. And then last night, my RA must have been like “spinal column and ribcage, what are those doing there? I want to visit!”

During the last five years my (moderate to severe) RA has affected my back and my ribs only a handful of times. Last night was one of this times.

So when I woke up at 4 a.m. with pain absolutely everywhere (actually, “pain” doesn’t even do justice to what it was that I was feeling), for the first time in a long time, I felt myself losing it. Panic. How can I possibly get through this, when even the movement that results from my breathing was creating extreme pain? Before I knew it, I dropped my awareness of everything around me…even my body, to some extent, and focused on my breathing.

Even though reducing my sphere of existence was a frightening experience, it did help. Within a few minutes, the tears (okay, sobs) stopped, and my heart rate lowered. I felt well enough to actually attempt to close my eyes and fall back to sleep. I received hugs from my partner, and I envisioned myself receiving hugs from everyone I know, as I drifted back into sleep.

My last conscious thought was that once the sun came up in a few hours, things were going to be better. I was going to start my day like any other day, and continue to move forward. I would have indeed made it through another very difficult moment.

Here I am.

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

Updated: It seems like a lot of us have been having our sleep interrupted recently. Be sure to take a look at Attitude of Gratitude’s Sleepus Interruptus.