I had big plans for this morning. First, I was supposed to wake up early to take my dog Alva to the vet, so that we could check her blood sugar levels. Then, later in the morning we were going to do some shopping, followed by lunch at whatever restaurant happened to be in the vicinity of wherever we found ourselves at noon.
[For someone who used to cross the world with specific restaurants in mind, and who once ate black moss in China (it was actually quite good), I now find myself being more and more satisfied with whatever eating spot happens to be across the street!]
As soon as I was supposed to wake up, however, I knew that something was wrong. The first thing I did was mentally reschedule the visit to the vet; we could just as easily go on Monday as we could go today. I was unwilling to cancel my late-morning and lunch plans, though. My partner immediately suggested that we go ahead and reschedule these plans as well, but I preferred to “wait and see how I felt.”
And these were the last words I spoke, until I finally woke up many hours later, at 12 noon.
During those intervening hours, I experienced one of the worst flares that I’ve experienced in a long time. No matter how bad things might get, I’m rarely willing to think of my rheumatoid arthritis as being in charge. (I can’t control a lot of things, but I can always control how I react to what might be going on.) This morning it wasn’t even a contest, though…and apparently my calls of forfeiture went completely unheeded, as I got absolutely walloped for the next few hours.
A couple of aspects of my reaction to what was happening stand out.
First, while I was in the worst of my flare, even though I was asleep, I was still quite aware of what was going on. I could do very little; even turning around in bed seemed next to impossible. While all of this was going on, I was somehow able to put my mind and my thoughts in a good place, so much so that I started dreaming that it was move-in day at the college dorms. (No matter how old I was, during the night before starting another year of studies, I always used to feel like a little kid on Christmas eve!)
Second, as soon as I woke up, I found myself starting and moving on with my day as best I could. Yes, I have to cancel my first afternoon session of tutoring, but I did follow through with my second session later in the day. It used to be that flares such as this one, and losing my entire morning, used to put me in such a foul mood that I would not only snap at everyone around me, but that I would also feel depressed if not for days, then for weeks.
Today, I didn’t feel such a thing. Even as I experienced the wide-eyed amazement that naturally arises from knowing that I once again went through *that* much pain, I felt okay. Part of my was proud, when I realized how well I had gotten through this latest episode. Another part of me was humble, when I realized exactly what I had just, once again, gone through.
I continue to learn one of the most important lessons of living with this crippling disease:
Even when I have no control over my body, I have absolute control over my mind.
And as long as I continue to know this thought, believe this thought, and practice this thought, I know I’m going to be okay. It’s become, in a way, my own personal serenity prayer.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!