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On Flares And Fillings

I started today with one of those mornings. You know, those days when the pain doesn’t even wait for you to wake up before making its presence known. (Sort of like an eager kid at 5:00am on Christmas morning, wondering if it’s time to wake the parents.) Other than the extreme pain, there wasn’t much that could be considered unusual about this beginning to my day. (Come to think of it, there’s wasn’t much that could be considered unusual about the extreme pain.) Just another day in the life of any Rheumatoid Arthritis superhero…

Except for one thing: I was scheduled to go to the dentist at 10:00am, in order to replace a filling the fell out last week (resulting in extreme sensitivity to anything hot or cold.) My first thought was how could I possible undergo such a procedure, especially on such a flaretastic day like this one. And then, suddenly, my inner-negotiator appeared (remind me to ask for credentials next time)…and offered up this suggestion: But what better day is there to go to the dentist? You’re already in such considerable pain, that you’ll barely even notice the additional pain! (Hang with me, please…after all, I’ve never claimed that I always think rationally when I’m in the middle of a flare!)

So I decided not to cancel my appointment.

And now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can now see that things turned out exactly as I should have expected (had I thought about things a little more carefully, of course.)

The peak of my flare coincided (perfectly, I must say; it could not have been better planned) with the exact moment when they clipped on my bib and reclined the chair into a horizontal position. (On the plus side, at least I was now laying down…now all I had to do was pretend that I was back in bed, where I should be!) I told myself that this was my last opportunity to call if off. I fast-forwarded a few seconds into the future, and envisioned myself trying to explain to the roomful of people (in addition to the dentist, there were actually four assistants!) that raising the white flag had nothing to do with nervousness, and had everything to do with the fact that my invisible illness was flaring…but I could already see the incredulous looks on their faces.

So instead, I bit the bullet, and told myself that the absolute worst would soon be over (and I’m still not sure if I was referring to my flare, or to my filling.) I took a deep breath, revved up the iPod, and started to relax. Less than a minute later, the gave me an injection of dental anesthesia on the right side of my mouth. Within a few seconds, everything located within an imaginary golf-ball sized sphere around my tooth was numb. I couldn’t feel a thing.

And as they started working on my tooth, I suddenly felt better…because right at that moment, I started to imagine how awesome it would be to get a corresponding shot of anesthesia in each and every one of my joints. (Once again, please refer to my disclaimer at the end of the second paragraph.) I so much wanted this crazy vision to really be true, that in a weird sort of way I could actually sense tiny spheres on each of my joints, taking away the pain.

Here I was, getting my tooth drilled in the middle of a flare, and I was (somewhat surprisingly) okay. I wasn’t trying to be a hero, and I wasn’t trying to prove how strong I was…I just wanted to get it over with. I think that sometimes, when flares become so frequent, it can actually be more of a challenge to schedule activities around them, as opposed to just moving forward as planned. (Haha, I love how I’m still trying to rationalize the decisions I made this morning!)

And there you have it: the somewhat silly, but true, story of how I got a filling while in the midst of a major flare.

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


Happy World Arthritis Day!

Today, in honor of World Arthritis Day 2011, I’m going to start working on a new personal challenge…and I’d like to invite my readers to participate as well. Yes, rheumatoid arthritis has taken away a lot from our lives…but I think it’s about time that we start taking back what’s ours…one thing at a time!

Will you join me in this World Arthritis Day challenge? 


World Arthritis Day Challenge: Take Back What’s Yours!

On this day before World Arthritis Day 2011, I would first of all like to thank everyone who has helped raise awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis during these past few days; the number of people who continue to share and read RA Guy’s 60-Second Guide to RA has been greater than I could have ever imagined. To me, this shows that together we all have the power to raise awareness of this disease with which we live!

Living with rheumatoid arthritis, or any other autoimmune disease, brings many challenges into a person’s life. Raising awareness, and educating others about the particulars of our chronic illness, goes a long way in making things just a tad bit easier. Beyond this, however, are all of the personal challenges that result from the chronic pain, debilitating inflammation, and disability.

All too often, rheumatoid arthritis seems to take away so much from our lives. It could be that performing our favorite physical exercise or sport just becomes too much to do, or a loss of dexterity in our hands causes us to stop enjoying some of our favorite hobbies. Other times, what illness takes away can be much more comprehensive; we start losing our ability to enjoy life, and find it much more difficult–in general–to experience happiness.

While at times it may seem that changing this flow of events is just too daunting, I–for one–believe that doing so is possible. So, starting tomorrow, I’m going to present myself a new challenge…and I’d like to invite my readers to participate as well. Yes, rheumatoid arthritis has taken away a lot from our lives…but I think it’s about time that we start taking back what’s ours…one thing at a time!

Here’s how it works:

1. Reclaim one thing, big or small. It could be that favorite sport or pastime that seems to have slowly faded away during the past few months or years, or it could be that dream that you’ve always had…even before rheumatoid arthritis entered your life. ‘Reclaiming’ can mean many things; it could mean doing something just as you’ve done in the past, or (and for me this is even more interesting) figuring out how to adapt or modify a certain activity to fit your current life. Even more, it could mean replacing something that has been taken away with something else that is completely new!

2. However long it might take you to do so, enjoy your ability to reclaim one thing! Keep it private, and use it as a daily reminder to let yourself know that you–and not your illness–is in charge of your life. Or, share it with the rest of us, and let others be encouraged by your success. I will post here on my blog (either with your name or anonymously, it’s your choice) any messages I receive from individuals describing how they have indeed been able to RECLAIM | One Thing.

Happy World Arthritis Day 2011!

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


RA Guy’s “Hope! Unlimited” Mug

This mug was especially designed for all superheroes who are living with rheumatoid arthritis, including their friends, family members, and co-workers.

Hand-drawn by RA Guy, the art work includes some of the most popular comic book images from his website. The white text on the blue sky is from his “About Me” page, which represents the first words that were ever published on his blog.

You too will feel like a superhero when you use this mug!

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