Okay… so… yesterday was appointment number 2 with the Rheumatologist. I like her. Yesterday she was a bit busier and more harried… but she was running behind and she was very apologetic over it all… first doctor who ever did that, too.
So… blood work and x-rays came back. I don’t have Lupus. I have not be exposed to hepatitis. I have RA. I thought MAYBE I had it 5 or 6 months. NOT. Based on the test results, and the already erosion of bone in my hands and feet, it has been at LEAST a year.
Wow. At least a year.
The rainy season has started. Even though this is our summertime, the combination of high altitude, clouds, and rain makes it feel like wintertime. Yesterday we had quite a storm right after lunchtime – thunder (my dogs are never happy when strange noises start coming out of the sky) and a strong downpour for a couple of hours early afternoon.
Which meant that by late afternoon, my rheumatoid arthritis was in full swing. My wrists felt like they had been obliterated…although if they really had been obliterated, there would be nothing left to actually feel the pain that I was experienced. (Once I try to stop figuring everything out, I actually begin to figure things out.)
I eventually rolled myself out of bed – it was my sister and brother-in-law’s last night in town, and they had invited us out to dinner. As I was getting dressed, I wondered “Why now – couldn’t this flare have waited until tomorrow, after they leave?” But the worst had passed, and I figured that in a half hour or so I would be doing much better.
Thirty minutes later I was back in the groove, enjoying our final dinner together. I was a great evening, and a wonderful way to end our visit. I just got back from the airport, as they depart on their 18 hour trip back home. The morning sky is beginning to brighten behind the dark clouds and a slight drizzle is falling, as all signs indicate that it will be another stormy day. My wrists are prepared for whatever might happen. No matter how bad the pain might get at times, the worst eventually does pass.
Sometimes the most important lesson for a superhero to learn is how to live with pain.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!
12/15/09 A federal agency has announced new warnings for all products containing diclofenac sodium, including Voltaren Gel, because the medications have been linked to reports of serious liver damage resulting in transplants and deaths.
Hat tip to Arthritis_IA for sharing this link. I ‘ve been using Voltaren Gel 2-3 times a week for months during my physical therapy sessions, so this is definitely something that I need to take note of.
“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”
Over the past month, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has realized that his rheumatoid arthritis has not seemed to be as disruptive as it once used to be. I’m not saying that my rheumatoid arthritis has not been active – it has been active, maybe it has not reached some of its strongest levels, but it has still been active. For years is seemed to be a matter of my life versus my rheumatoid arthritis, acting in opposition to one another. I think I am at a point in my journey with rheumatoid arthritis where I am learning that they can actually go hand-in-hand, and work together.
One of my biggest fears in the past year was committing myself to a fixed schedule. How could I possibly plan to do something on a certain date at a certain time, when I don’t know how I will be feeling at that moment in time. And then I began to realize, even though I was still allowing myself the flexibility that I needed in order to manage my pain and inflammation, I was following a schedule much more than I had realized. There were my weekly therapy sessions. There were my 2x or 3x a week physical therapy sessions. I then introduced evening classes three times a week. Just this past month I started tutoring a new student 3 times a week, on top of another student who I tutor twice a week. Am I always feeling 100% (okay, 90%) during all of these commitments? No. Does this mean that I am unable to meet my commitments? No. It only means that I must rest even more during my down time.
I entered December with a lot of if’s on my mind. Will I be able to go to the airport early in the morning to welcome my family member, if my RA is flaring? Will I be able to accompany them to the lake and to the island, with its strenuous uphill hike, if my RA is flaring? Will I be able to show them around the crowded and steep streets of town, if my RA is flaring? Will I be able to cook Christmas dinner, if my RA is flaring? Will I be able to go out for an evening of drink and folkloric music, if my RA is flaring?
I was able to do everything that I had hoped to…and unlike in the past, I did not do it by pushing myself too far. I did it by embracing the presence of rheumatoid arthritis in my life, and by learning how to moderate my activities not only when my RA is at its worst, but also when my RA is at its best.
Sure, I needed help peeling the potatoes and lifting heavy pots and pans onto the stove and into the oven on Christmas eve, but in the end the meal came out just with the flavorful touches that I had hoped for. By asking for help, I not only prevented myself from overworking my hands, but I also created a social environment in the kitchen…which made it a place of fun, instead of a place of overwhelming work.
My ankles continue to get quite stiff on most mornings, requiring at least a half hour of warm-up rotations before I can get out of bed. My hands and wrists continue to have their good times and their bad times. My rheumatoid arthritis is still active, but it’s nice to know that I am allowing it to become a part of my life, and not an obstacle to living my full life.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!
Like many people, Nila Patel is feeling stressed about the prospect of entertaining her extended family during the Christmas holidays – but her concerns are exacerbated by the fact she has rheumatoid arthritis.
The 26-year-old, from London, is hosting a family dinner with her mother, but her fingers are badly deformed and her condition makes domestic duties more of a challenge.
“I will always try to help around the kitchen – but there are certain things I can’t do, such as peeling potatoes,” she said.
“My mobility is quite limited, and my activities. I can’t carry anything too heavy and I can’t grip very hard. I cannot carry a big pot from one hob to the other. I have to use two hands.
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