From November of last year, until around the beginning of this current month, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has basically been in one big flare. The most challenging periods, those times when the extreme pain and stiffness could be measured in weeks and not in months, still stand out clearly in my mind: January, March, and July.
While each and every day during these past ten months was not necessarily marked by a flare, ‘good’ days such as these were definitely the exception. Having one day every week or so, during which I could sit back and catch my breath from this non-stop marathon, became much more of the pattern.
These periods of low-level pain and disease activity were often of such short duration, that I could often feel the next flare coming on just as soon as the last flare was tapering down. It felt like I was constantly trapped between two sine curves. (Okay, the mathematician geek in me is coming out!)
At times, I really did feel like a marathon runner (although ‘hobbler’ or ‘limper’ might be a more appropriate description.) As long as I tried to stay one step ahead of the worst of my pain and disability, I felt okay. Problem was that I had to run and run and run and run until my illness gave me a break. (10K marathons, step aside…10 Day marathons are where it’s at!) I never knew either when they would come, or how long they would last. But I did learn one important lesson: enjoy these breaks as much as possible, no matter how short or long they might last.
(And by ‘enjoy’, I don’t mean go out and overdo everything. I’ve definitely learned this lesson on more than one occasion.)
During this almost past year, there were also the occasional–and even more rare–two ‘good’ days in a row. I remember those mornings well, waking up practically prepared to jump right back into a flare, and being pleasantly surprised when this did not happen. But inevitably my flare would return…it had taken its weekend off (which never corresponded to my actual weekend, of course) and my RA was more than ready to get back to work.
And while I continued to focus as much as possible on improving my levels of acceptance and coping skills, what I dreamed about, what I yearned for, was that perfect trifecta: not the first- second- and third-place of horse races, or the Triple Crown, but those three wonderful, almost magical, days in a row where my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were at the bottom of the range. I wasn’t asking for too much, I often told myself…just three days!
Alas, month after month passed without such a thing happening…but I never seemed to lose hope, no matter how bad things actually got.
Which makes the past two weeks even more special than they have already been. You see, it’s been fifteen days since my last major flare…and in my head, I find myself keeping count, like a “this company has not had an accident in X number of days’ sign that often hangs on the side of a factory wall.
But this time, I’m not keeping count because I’m worried about how much longer this break might or might not last.
I’m keeping count to remind myself that once again, no matter how much is seems like things will never get better, they eventually do.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!