Overcoming Fear


“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few days ago, I called my rheumatologist. I had noticed some minor improvement in my pain and stiffness during the previous couple of weeks…not as much as I might have hoped for, but I continued to focus in on the fact that things continued to get better (if only slightly) each day. How quickly things change, though. One day, things got a little bit worse. The next day, just a little bit worse. And so too, the next day. And so on. And so on. Rather than wait until I was in the midst of yet another flare, I decided to phone my doctor and let him know what was going on.

I’ve been back on my maximum Prednisone dosage for about a week now, and today I had another injection. Normally, I would have noticed some improvement by now, but so far things continue on a downward slide. I’ve (once again) started experiencing random spasms along the entire length of my left leg. A couple of nights ago, I woke up screaming during a particularly strong contraction. Yesterday, in the middle of my physical therapy session, it happened again. My physical therapist was absolutely frightened to see my leg completely pulled out of shape. (Think of the letter “c”…not even Gumby could do something like that!)

I know she was scared, because after the contraction passed she told me as much. Even if she hadn’t told me though, I would have know. The fear on her face was obvious. Although I knew it wasn’t my fault, I still felt a little bad. Sometimes it’s hard for even me to believe what’s going on, and that’s because I experience such episodes firsthand and see them with my own eyes. Still, at times it all just seems a little too unreal. Did that really just happen?

I continue to realize that just as the pain never really goes away, neither does the fear. As brave a face as I continue to put on my situation, the truth is…it’s scary as hell.

But I’m not going to let this fear to take control. (Been there, done that.) I’ll continue to figure out how to face this fear head-on, scary as it may be. I’ll continue to figure out how to neutralize this fear. I think I’m off to a good start…over the past week, as my condition continues to worsen and the medicines don’t seem to be delivering the results they have in the past, I’ve recognized my fear…but I haven’t allowed it to affect the way I think about or react to my situation.

I’m standing up to my fear…and in a world of pain, this actually feels really good.

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

Life. Work. Home.

WorkA couple of weeks ago, I seriously began to wonder if I was going to be ready to return to classes this semester. Even though I love teaching, the mechanics of the situation just did not seem to be cooperating. If I wasn’t able to get out of bed, I certainly wouldn’t be able to make it back into the classroom. My concerns ultimately proved to be unfounded, though. Earlier today, I returned to work!

I’ll be teaching two classes this term…they are scheduled back-to-back, in the same ground-floor classroom. (Last semester, I learned how paying attention to these details, and making requests ahead of time, makes teaching with RA just a little bit easier.) I’m also off to a staggered start, i.e. one class started today and the next class starts next week…this is just one more method of allowing myself a smoother transition back into my professional responsibilities.

When I last saw my students in December, I struggled to perform the simplest tasks (there were days when I couldn’t even remove my backpack by myself) and my pain was very visible. Today as I stood in front of my class and lectured, yes I still had a considerable amount of pain, but it wasn’t nearly as noticeable as before. (A lot of credit is due to an awesome pair of comfortable dress shoes that I purchased just a few days ago–they were so affordable that I ended up buying two pairs, one black and one brown. As an added bonus, they’re slip-on…no laces required!)

When I returned home a little after midday, I was exhausted. While my RA continues to show improvement over the past few days, I’m still recovering from a full-blown cold that started this past Thursday and that kept me up most of the night last night. I allowed myself plenty of time to rest, and then got up and continued with my day. I am sure that this cold will soon pass, providing me that extra bit of energy that I’ll need next week when I’m on campus for an additional two hours each day.

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

Let’s Move Together…At Arthritis Walk

Maya from Loving With Chronic Illness:

“On May 15th I’ll be walking to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation with my team, the “NYC Sick Chick Club.” I’ve lived with a painful and progressive form of arthritis called Spondylitis since I was a little girl. Each day I pray for a cure and am forever grateful to organizations like the Arthritis Foundation that work tirelessly toward this goal.”

Maya’s Fundraising Page: http://newyorkaw.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp…

Arthritis WalkThe Arthritis Walk® is the Arthritis Foundation’s annual nationwide event that raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis, the nation’s most common cause of disability. It is a tremendous opportunity to help improve the lives of the 50 million men, women and children doctor-diagnosed with arthritis. This year, get your company involved or recruit friends and family members to form a team and join Let’s Move Together, a nationwide movement led by the Arthritis Foundation that encourages people to move to prevent or treat arthritis. By joining the movement you also make the commitment to participate in your local 2011 Arthritis Walk.

Read More: http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-walk.php