During every extended flare, there comes a point where I just know that the worst has passed, and that better days are around the corner. This doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly pain free, or that my joints aren’t creaky and stiff. What it usually does mean is that I’m tired of the pain, and that I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed. I feel like I’m once again being pushed closer to that edge, into that downward spiral where things will only get exponentially worse. Instead of accepting this as the inevitable outcome, however, I’ve learned–from experience–that the best reaction is to do the complete opposite. The best thing to do, at least in my case, is to start projecting wellness into my life…every moment that I can.
And the results are so good, that the only thing that I am left doubting is why I didn’t do so sooner. (But, I’ve also learned, there are periods when I need to let my rheumatoid arthritis run it’s course, before I step in and try to turn things around.)
think know that this change took place last week, just as I was beginning to have some of my worst days of this recent extended flare. This past Tuesday, I went back to swimming pool (after not doing so for more than a month due to first a two-week cold, and then my flare) and was slightly disappointed when I was told that the new registration started not on that day, but a week later. But a funny thing happened…as I walked away, I felt little better, just knowing that I would soon be back in the water doing some gentle movements and stretches. I wasn’t exercising yet, but my body definitely got the message, and seemed to be happy.
And then came World Arthritis Day, and my personal challenge which I shared with my readers to reclaim one thing. As I read all of the comments that different people left, I was fascinated even more with the thought of turning the tide; that is, bringing things back into our lives as opposed to having arthritis take them away. And I mean this from a point of realism…I know that RA brings a lot of challenges and obstacles into daily life, but I’ve always said that my “can do” list will always be longer than my “can’t do” list. (It’s interesting, how the exact thing that seems to take something away can also be the exact same thing that seems to add something new.)
Towards the end of the week, as I’ve previously written, I went to the dentist’s office for a filling. Earlier today I went in for a dental cleaning. And while this is not nearly as enjoyable as something such as a spa experience, for me there is a lot to be gained from the knowledge that I am indeed taking care of my body. And like I wrote above, my body definitely hears this message. (As does my rheumatoid arthritis, which by this point is beginning to feel less in control.)
This past weekend, evidence of this turnaround was noticeable for everyone to see. I woke up Saturday, feeling a little achy…but less achy than usual. I noticed that the muscle contractures along my back, which had been there for more than two weeks, were gone. I went to visit a friend (my physical therapist, in fact) who was in the hospital, recovering from surgery. I went shopping to the local market, and purchased some fresh vegetables. I came home, and spent a few days cooking in the kitchen. That evening I went to sleep feeling good, and wondering what the next day would bring.
And when I woke up Sunday, feeling even better despite the fact that I had done much more than usual during the previous day (often referred to as “doing to much”), I cautiously wondered how long it would last…and before I knew it, Sunday evening arrived and I realized that it had in fact lasted all day. While living with rheumatoid arthritis, there is always something magical about have consecutive days of low to minimal pain. During the day, I took the dogs for a walk…and took one of my longest naps in a long time. (There is something even more magical about waking up, pain free, from an afternoon nap. Usually fatigue drags me to sleep, and the pain slaps me awake.)
And today? Well, I’ll keep it simple: Day 3! It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, and just around this time I’d usually be going into my second flare of the day. I’m also cooking (something usually unheard of on a weekday), as I’ve got a huge pot of homemade spaghetti sauce stewing away.
And tomorrow, I finally get to go back to the swimming pool!
[Someone kindly reminded me to not stop taking my medicines, now that I'm feeling better. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I actually have not taken any medicines during the past seven months.]
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!