A couple of days ago, I told my physical therapist that my condition had to get better the following day, because if it got any worse I didn’t know how I was going to be able to handle things. As soon as the words left my mouth, panic filled my mind. There was a real possibility that I would indeed feel worse the following day, and if that was the case I had to be prepared for it. There was no sense in declaring defeat before something happened. I for one didn’t want to be that financial news reporter who declares that stocks have reached their low, only to have the drop precipitously the next day.
And it was a good thing that I started preparing myself mentally should things get worse, because that is exactly what happened during the following 36 hours.
Last night while I was sleeping, the pain was so bad that I was fully aware of it. Imagine (and I know that many of us have experienced this and don’t have to imagine it), being completely asleep yet completely aware of the intense pain, all at the same time. (This wasn’t the first time that this has happened.) And at a certain point, I just started crying…crying in my sleep. I was shaken awake, and told that I was having a nightmare. It’s funny, I thought…nightmares often result from thoughts that take us to someplace scary that exists only in our minds. What I was experiencing wasn’t a nightmare at all. In this instance, it was my reality
This morning I woke up, with images of 6 foot band-aids filling my head. Wouldn’t that be the best thing ever, to just wrap myself with one huge bandage from head to toe! (Although Elisabeth on Twitter did mention, what would it feel like to peel of such a thing? Ouch!) As I sat down to eat my breakfast, the pain once again began to take over. And I thought to myself, that yes, being in a flare is in many ways like being trapped in a nightmare. As often as I’ve gone through this before, there are times where it just seems like too much to handle, and I begin to wonder how I am possibly going to get through the day with so much pain and disability.
As much as I try not to provoke such fear with thoughts that remain under my control, sometimes it just seems to appear out of nowhere, in a heartbeat. And the fear doesn’t just make itself present. It wraps itself around you, and makes you feel like you are drowning.
But I’ve learned that during these moments, I have two options. I can be consumed with this fear, and allow it’s grip hold over me to strengthen. Or, I can try to trick my mind. And no, by trick I do not mean that I should deny or avoid the situation that I am facing. Just the opposite, almost. I need to start to fill my head with pleasant thoughts. I need to maintain my confidence, and tell myself that I will get through this, minute by minute if I have to. I need to counteract these frightening thoughts and feelings in every was possible. (Like I said, I need to trick my mind.)
And it’s nice to know that this method works. My pain still continues to spin out of control (I have another physical therapy session in half an hour.) But at this moment, my mind is at peace, and I am once again in control of my thoughts.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!