Butterflies

A few days ago, I experienced another one of my really bad flares. As my sensory inputs started to fade away and the pain took over, I thought to myself: How will I ever be able to describe to someone what this feels like? And then something interesting happened. I heard a voice asking me: Can you describe what it looks like?

All of a sudden, I started to experience one of my flares in a completely new way. Sure, it was just as painful as every other flare that has come before–but for the first time ever, during the most painful of all moments, I was finally able to focus on something other than just the pain.

As the flare subsided, what stayed in my mind was a variety of fascinating visual images. (Much better than the usual memories of pain.)

Just a couple of hours ago I experienced another flare. Once I was able to move again, instead of shedding tears, I decided to sit down in front of my computer and capture some of my visual memories from this flare. Here are the results:

Butterflies

I wonder, what will my next flare look like?

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

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New York Times Health Blog: Getting Joint Replacements Right

03patient_600-articleInlineAlthough joint replacements are now routine, they are not fail-safe, reports Lesley Alderman in the Patient Money column.

Implants must sometimes be replaced, said Dr. Henrik Malchau, an orthopaedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. A study published in 2007 found that 7 percent of hips implanted in Medicare patients had to be replaced within seven and a half years.

The percentage may sound low, but the finding suggests that thousands of hip patients eventually require a second operation, said Dr. Malchau. Those patients must endure additional recoveries, often painful, and increased medical expenses.

Read More: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/getting-joint-replacements-right/

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Stillness

StillnessLast month, I had more episodes of forced stillness than I have had in a long time. Come to think of it, these were probably the most episodes I’ve ever had in a one month period. While most of my experiences stayed in the present, some of my memories from the past did resurface.

Right around the time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago, I had some of my first episodes of forced stillness. While my body stayed still, my mind was anything but. It felt trapped, and it wasn’t happy. It was doing everything possible to try to escape from the stillness.

While these episodes of this past month were much better (emotionally) than those of a few years, I realized that there was still much more that I could do in order to try to turn them into less traumatic experiences. During those moments, when I could not move or speak, I realized what was going on and my mind was relatively calm. It was afterward, once the ice seemed to melt away, that it felt more traumatic than ever. In a weird sort of way, the hours immediately after these episodes were more difficult to cope with than the actual episodes themselves.

So I looked at my meditation practice, and started to think of how many moments of complete stillness – physical and mental – that I have experienced while meditating. Sometimes these moments come during a session of dedicated meditation, while others come at the end of a yoga/pilates class while I am lying in corpse pose (savasana). The one thing that all of these different types of stillness have in common is that they are relaxing, refreshing, and renewing.

And in a way, they are “voluntary”. I decide when I want to enter into these moments of stillness.

I started to think…why not incorporate the best aspects from my moments of “voluntary” stillness into my moments of “forced” stillness. Better yet, why not remove the labels completely? Voluntary stillness. Forced stillness. What I am left with is just stillness. And as I have learned through my meditation and yoga practices, moments of stillness are often beautiful.

Sometimes, I will be able to decide when the stillness comes, and sometimes I won’t be able to decide when the stillness comes. When it does come, however, I will do my best to make it a pleasant experience. From now on, I will move into and enjoy the stillness, rather than fight against it.

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

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