Emerging From My Worst Flare Yet

healing heartWhen I come out of full-crisis mode, especially one that lasted longer than usual, it’s always strange to make that transition from the few square meters that my life had been physically reduced to, back to the full outside world. (It’s even stranger to realize that even though my house is not very large, some parts of it actually fall too far out of reach during my worst flares.)

The hard part used to be the challenges associated with transitioning from walking without any mobility device whatsoever, to using a cane, to struggling to get around with crutches, to barely even being able to move at all. I’ve gotten used to this, though, and all of the strategizing that it entails. Two hands free, one hand free, no hands free…but at a certain point, it doesn’t even matter–because when my hands are unencumbered from supporting each and every one of my steps, they too have stopped working.

This past week I went through this whole process once again, just in reverse. Having a free hand to carry an umbrella as I walk along the sidewalk during a rain shower. Going to the grocery store and being able to purchase more than just what fits into my small, one zipper backpack. No longer having to look for a resting place for my cane or crutches, but having that nagging feeling that I’ve left something behind whenever I leave a building or step out of a taxi…these are just some of the different thoughts that I’ve dealt with over the past few days.

There is nothing quite so surreal, however, as once again experiencing that “first day”–the first day that I leave the house without a cane or a crutch. The knowledge that I am ready to do so, that shifting more weight back onto my left leg will actually make it stronger and will not result in more pain or damage…but also acknowledging the fear and hesitation associated with making this final leap. Thinking that my limp has finally become permanent, and then seeing it slowly fade away, and then yesterday (for the first time in more than two months) realizing that I am walking sans cane, crutch, or limp.

As the limits of my physical self continue to expand, I realize that during this past flare I was somehow able to prevent my emotional self from falling victim to this overwhelming shrinking effect that seemed to be taking over my entire world. As I recover from this most recent flare, my emotional self is not playing catch-up as it would have been doing in the past…instead, my emotional self is standing one step ahead, guiding my physical body as it once again continues to familiarize itself with its movements and its sensations.

I was such an active participant during the final two weeks of my flare, that I think I’ve kicked back and become more of a peaceful observer this past week. Left to its own devices, a body is an incredibly strong and intelligent thing. I took good care of my body over the past few weeks…now I’m letting it take good care of me.

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

9 Comments
9 comments
  1. Steve Kane says:

    My last flare lasted 3 years. The scariest part was when it finally ended and I had to be responsible for doing things again.

  2. Bekah says:

    I too just came out of a huge flare, but still having baby flares, one good day, one bad day, etc…and I actually got to go to the Lake and sit by the water in the coolness, (south LA) sunshine all over me, for a wedding that was very important to attend..I actually walked cane free …..I so adore these good days! :)

  3. Mariellen says:

    This last post brought tears to my eyes. Good for you, RA Guy. We are all rooting for you. I hope you know the hope and inspiration you are to the RA world out here in cyberspace. Blessings.

  4. Cathy says:

    Yay!!! I noticed that I had a huge smile on my face as I read this post. I am so glad you are coming out of this flare and that you have taken such good care of yourself.

    One nice thing about RA, it brings on the worst but it always eventually brings some relief.

  5. former sufferer says:

    RA Guy,
    I was diagnosed in my late 30′s, and suffered for years from almost daily flares. Within a few years, I began to show signs of deformities in my feet and hands and seriously considered ending my life.
    I am now in my mid 50′s and rarely have a flare. Instead of daily, it’s now maybe one day every few months, and even then, it is very mild and endurable, one Aleve away from pain-free. What changed?
    One night a few years back, a former college friend who was visiting re-introduced me to marijuana and I realized that it almost instantly relieved my pain. I began experimenting and discovered that the more frequently I smoked, the better I felt long-term. I now only take a few puffs a day and it seems to keep the flares at bay. Nothing else has helped me in any significant way. This is now my only medication, as it’s all I need.
    Every chance I get, I try to share this information with others, and have talked to physicians and written to my representatives in Congress to urge them to work to decriminalize marijuana/make medical marijuana available to chronic pain sufferers like you and me. The side effects are insignificant and temporary, contrary to many legal pharmaceuticals on the market today.
    The real crime here is that help is available but, because of societal attitudes, propaganda, and political dithering, people suffer needlessly.
    For me, even though it is illegal, it is utterly worth the risk. I would rather be free from pain and a productive member of society, than a crippled, pain-filled, vulnerable, non-productive mess. My body, my choice.
    Best of luck to you all.

  6. Lana says:

    It is really confusing, isn’t it? One day, you need help and one day you don’t and the next day you do. Your right about how surreal it is and it never stops being surreal regardless of how long you have lived with the condition. When I flare, I just keep going looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it is there but sometimes it takes longer to get there. I guess we are somehow supposed to get used it but we never really do. Every time you climb one mountain, you find a bigger one right behind it, then a smaller one, and then a bigger one again. Everyday is challenger with RA and all we do are the right things to get through flare-ups and to try to avoid them. I think the biggest lesson I have taken with me in recent years because of RA is that nothing is impossible. For all we are capable of, RA is our biggest challenge and if we can conquer with, or at least live with amicably, RA, we are capable of anything.

  7. Frances Nimmo says:

    Hello RA Guy,
    I have had JRA since age 13 and I’m currently 26. I did everything right, so I thought, and went years before the disease knocked me out cold of my career and life plans. It’s been a year since losing my career as a chemist, I still struggle with my life being turned upside down, the daily pain, the flip flopping on steroids/humira/etc, and what to do with my life now.

    I hate knowing this disease has to be shared by others but glad I’m not alone at the same time. Thanks for being out here. Thanks to the others sharing as well, our disease is invisible but WE are not.

  8. Betty says:

    To all of you. Thank you for telling me about your experiences. I thought it was just me. The unfortunate thing with me is that the pain is chronic. Day after day–night after night. I also have osteoarthitis and fibro to add to it. I’m beginning to give up. I had one good day in the past 15 years. I went to the hospital because a nurse called in the wrong script for my high blood pressure. She called it in with a water pill ingrediate added to it. The muscle pain and cramping of muscles caused me to go. At the hospital they gave me a shot. It didn’t make me sleeping or feel drugged. Tears ran down my cheeks and I looked at my husband and said, “honey this is the first time I haven’t had ANY pain in years.” I don’t know what it was but I know it wasn’t a narcotic. I’m about sick to death of taking them. I can’t take anti-inflammatories due to ulcers. So when all of you talk about good days and bad days it confuses me. Mine are all bad and yes I’m on all of the RA drugs. I am happy for you all and God bless you.

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