Last night, I dreamt that I was having dinner at someone’s house. I remember, in my dream, looking at my hands, and crying because I was in so much pain. Before I knew it, (in the real world) I was being shaken awake. I was in fact crying, and my hands were indeed experiencing intense pain. The routine nature of this episode is what strikes me the most: no bedside lamps were turned on, and very few words were exchanged. I just rolled over, and went back to sleep.
When I woke up, I was actually feeling pretty good. I went through most of the morning and afternoon without any major issues. I had a gut feeling that my episode during the night might be a sign of worse things to come…but with each hour that passed my nervousness started to subside, and my confidence continued to grow. When I jumped in a taxi at 3:30pm, I even started to think that I had made it through yet another day without any major flares.
Of course, we all know what happened next.
I had a major flare that was so strong and that came on so quickly, that I was barely able to walk when I stepped out of the taxi less than 10 minutes later. Now my left knee has always been the most affected joint in my body, so much so that during my visit with my rheumatologist last week he recommended that I start looking into the possibility of getting an arthroscopic cleaning. As such, my right knee has always come to the rescue, and has always (grudgingly) accepted the extra pounds whenever I have to distribute weight off my weak knee.
My right knee let me know today, though, that it’s not too happy with this situation. (Come to think of it, I can’t really blame my right knee for reacting in such a way.) Just a few steps away from my physical therapist’s office, it stopped responding to my mental commands to move.
As I walked into the door, I told myself that I was not going to cry. (I can’t even count all of the occasions when I have shown up with tears rolling down my cheeks.) Today was going to be different, I told myself. Even though I was obviously in pain, I would force a smile. I would do anything, but I wasn’t going to cry.
But the more I told myself not to cry, the more I needed to cry. And once again, as my tears flowed and as I silently sobbed, I was welcomed with gentle words and soft caresses. As I was eventually helped up onto the bed, I couldn’t help but feeling some sense of panic over the loss of use of my legs. (By this point, my left leg had joined in on the party as well. Even after laying down, I wasn’t able to move either. Electrical currents were eventually applied, but the muscles still would not respond. My legs were, in fact, *completely* down down for count.)
And right at that moment, as much as I’ve tried to not think such a thought for the past few years, I felt like a loser. And then I felt angry with myself for thinking such a thing. And then I decided that such thinking wasn’t helping any…so I just tried to stop thinking completely. But as I watched my physical therapist move my legs, and realized that were it not for my sense of vision I would have no idea they were even being moved…well, everything just seemed all too confusing, and I really didn’t know what to do.
I did know that panicking wasn’t going to help any. So I closed my eyes, and started taking deep breaths…within a few seconds I was so relaxed, that I actually dozed off.
I was woken up, exactly how long later I don’t know, by my partner walking into my PT room. At first I couldn’t figure out what he was doing there, but then I remembered calling him, in the few minutes after arriving at my physical therapist’s office. (I’m not even sure what I said when I called him, I just remember having an overwhelming need to let him know that I had safely made it into the office.)
I’m feeling better now, and I’m back in the comfort of my own bed. I’ve written previously about just how quickly these episodes can appear (a month or so ago, it happened when I was at the grocery store); today’s episode only emphasizes this reality. When I left my house, I was doing so well that I actually thought I’d be okay with just with my cane. I told myself, however, that I had better be safe, and ended up taking my crutches. And in the span of taxi ride during which I am barely able to listen to two or three songs on my iPod, I went from being able to walk with no problems, to barely being able to walk, to a few minutes later not being able to move my legs.
I don’t know how to close this post. I don’t have a good statement about another lesson learned. I just needed to get these words down, I think, to remind myself in the future that this episode actually took place. It may sometimes feel like a dream, like the one I had during the middle of the night…but just as I saw last night, even when it feels like I might be dreaming, what is happening to my body is all too real.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!