Stepping On Your Toes

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

“Even under the best of circumstances, life is challenging, and much of the time it is difficult. It is always uncertain, constantly changing, and mostly out of your control. Whether it is taking you on a wonderful ride or stepping on your toes, life will move you with the rhythm and in the direction of its own unfolding, irregardless of your best intentions. Life dances and you must dance with it. This is the necessary price and mysterious gift of being incarnate–alive in a body.”

Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering

Today, instead of completing the first downward taper of my Prednisone push, I actually (under my rheumatologist’s orders) increased the dosage.

It was a rough weekend, and today things got even rougher.

The inflammation is so constant and severe, that the first thing my physical therapist told me this morning was that I needed to not move any more than was absolutely necessary. I am having frequent episodes where both of my hands are being stretched and pulled like they were silly putty. Extended moments of loss of use usually follow. My left leg, from the hip down through the knee and ankle all the way to my toes, is inflamed like never before. Each muscle and tendon in between is being stretched out to its max…it feels like I’ve had a charley horse along the entire length of my leg for the past 24 hours straight.

So while I was still in physical therapy, I started texting and canceled both of my afternoon classes. In the big scheme of things it wasn’t a big loss, as it was the last class before the final exam tomorrow. Instead of reviewing together in the classroom, I asked each student to review individually (i.e. study).

It’s a good thing I changed my plans, because an hour later I was barely moving. My attempt to listen to one of my regular guided meditations (Break Through Pain: Free-Floating Within The Discomfort) actually pushed my anxiety levels over the edge. Even though I’ve listened to this track probably hundreds of times, the instructions at the beginning had a completely opposite effect of what I was hoping for. You see, I was being asked something along the lines of “make sure you get in a comfortable position”. Comfort? Are you kidding me? I could barely even move. It was too much for me to handle. (By the way, I would still highly recommend this book and its accompanying audio cd.)

I had lunch, sitting at the dining room table. (I just had to get out of my bedroom.) I sipped Sprite through a straw, and had my food cut up and served to me, forkful by forkful. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel angry. I was just happy that I was eating. I had planned to keep myself busy during the rest of the afternoon with stationary activities such as watching a movie or looking at some art books, but my energy levels were so low and the pain was so high that I spent the next few hours, asleep (passed out is more like it…hehe) on my bed.

It’s late in the evening and I’m almost finished writing the two exams for my classes tomorrow. I hope to be able to go administer them in person and say goodbye to my students, but if I am unable to do so I will not hesitate to ask my department head to have someone else stand in as a proctor.

So yes, the dance at the moment is harder than usual, and RA and I continue to step on each others toes…but I’ll keep on trying to figure out what I need to do. The pain and disability might be out of control, but my reaction to it remains within my control.

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