Simple Explanations

Walking DiagramAs I sit here typing on the computer at my desk, my knees and ankles are barely working. A few days ago, upon arriving at my afternoon physical therapy session, I quietly wondered to myself how I was even walking. I was soon after informed that my right (good) leg was in a worse condition than my left (bad) leg.

Even with the constantly-changing baseline and corresponding confusion of living with rheumatoid arthritis, some things still make sense. Some things still have simple explanations. By overcompensating for my weak leg, my strong leg had become even weaker than the limb it was attempting to help.

Although my mind wants to start racing around (and is sending messages that I should walk around as much as possible in order to stave off the current period of  immobility), I continue to stay calm (and still). I’m not going to panic, as doing so would only make things worse. Hard as it might be, I will continue to use each one of theses episodes to grow more accustomed to not being able to move at certain times.

Just yesterday, as I was rummaging through a box of childhood items, I came across a notebook from 1978. The author: my mother. The topic of each entry: things that I, a five-year-old child, said or asked. (I’ve been told that not only did I talk a lot, but that I asked lots and lots and lots of questions.) One entry in particular, from December of that year, stood out:

“Mom, how is it that one walks?” I tried to explain how our legs have bones and muscles, which are used when a person walks. “But how do we move them?” I explain how our brain sends out messages picked up by the body and we walk. “What is this bone called?” Luckily it’s one I know and tell him it’s called the ankle. From there here goes on to ask about others. “This? This?”  I answer the knee, the shoulder blades, etc. Then he starts in on asking the name of each finger’s bone. “What is each one called?” I tell him I don’t know and will try to get a picture of the bones in the body and show it to him later.

As a little kid, I was obviously very fascinated with figuring out what the musculoskeletal system was and understanding how it worked. (♫ Head bone connected from your neck bone, neck bone connected from your shoulder bone…) The funny thing is, more than three decades later, I am still just as fascinated with the muscoskeletal system.

The question that I am asking now, however, is quite different.

Why can’t I walk?

And while I know the simple explanation (my rheumatoid arthritis is quite active, and the resulting inflammation is preventing my joints from working correctly), it’s still difficult to understand what is really going on.

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

2 Comments
2 comments
  1. Tina A says:

    My son is 9 now and when he was around 2 or 3 (he was talking before he was a year old, so full sentences at this point) my mom was taking anatomy and physiology…John was completely fascinated with the skeleton pictures! “Nene, can I see your book with the bones in it?” When most kids were asking “why?”, my son was asking, “HOW?” He still wants to know “how” things work. Thank goodness for the internet because there are many things that I have to look up in order to answer his questions!

    I think my biggest “why” question lately is: Why do I have days where I can walk without a lot of pain and then the next day (or even an hour later) I can’t bend my knees without tearing up?? Today is one of those days…my toes ache and I waited until my son got home before I did a few things just in case I fell…so I wouldn’t be home alone.

  2. Carla says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple explanation, then maybe we could have a simple answer. Like, “Gosh, the kettle didn’t get hot because I forgot to turn on the stove.” Here’s hoping you find not only the explanation but something that will ease these issues for you.

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