Normally, I would right now be declaring that I am once again in a flare…but after a few months of being in this situation, I have started to realize that it’s no longer “just” a matter of being in or out of a flare. The entire baseline of my disease activity has dramatically shifted, and continues to do so.
Neither my rheumatologist nor I are ready to declare that my current treatment plan is not working, but we have already to discuss such a possibility. Even though we are technically in summer here in the southern hemisphere, living at 12,000 ft. above sea level on top of the Andes during rainy season is basically the equivalent of winter, with lots of cold, cloudy, and rainy days. With “real” winter just a few months away, climate continues to be a major issue.
My Prednisone taper has again been extended/increased. On Monday, I was given a very strong analgesic injection. (Which honestly, did not seem to provide any relief.) There was one comic moment during my consultation, when my rheumatologist (who I have a wonderful doctor-patient relationship with) asked me if the pain was “unbearable”. I chuckled in response. I myself used to used phrases such as “my pain is unbearable”, but have stopped doing so in the past couple of years. The way I see it, when it’s present I have to bear the pain, no matter what. (And no, my goal is not to be a Stoic.) What sense is there in thinking that I can’t bear the pain, when I don’t really have a choice?
And my professional life has undergone some radical cuts during the past week. I will continue to teach, but on a much smaller scale than I have been doing during the past year. On one hand this is quite frustrating, because my mind is so capable even though my body continues to fall behind. I could interpret recent events as a blow, but I am instead approaching them as another example of personal success while living with chronic illness: My body continues to demand more care, and I am prioritizing its needs above anything else. I am recognizing and accepting my limitations, hard as that might be. I continue to look forward to the future, and will start focusing more in tutoring, which will allow me to continue to work from the comfort of my house.
As I continue to live with rheumatoid arthritis, I realize that the re-balancing never ends. Sometimes I can add a little, other times I have to remove a lot. The one thing that does remain constant, however, is that as long as I continue to do so, I will always be able to find that moment of balance…that moment of peace.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!