(How I) Keep On Moving

Sometimes, I don’t exactly know how I keep on moving…but I do. Maybe it’s because I know (from experience) that quite often, laying in bed and getting depressed about the pain is an even worse alternative. (Beyond those instances when bed rest is both necessary and helpful, of course.) What I’m talking about are those days–“average” days in fact, for many of us who live with autoimmune disorders–when the only way to cope is to keep on moving…but when every single movement is the most painful thing ever.

I’m once again in a period where the feelings (physical and emotional) mentioned above are becoming more frequent. I take comfort in many things, such of the outpouring of support that I receive on Facebook and Twitter whenever I post a quick update about how I’m feeling.

Earlier today, I had a major flare that started just a few minutes before a student was to arrive for an afternoon tutoring class. Even though looking back I now know that there were many more options available, at the time I felt like I only had a couple of choices. I could crawl into bed and cancel my class. Or, I continue doing what I could.

I chose the latter, for three main reasons.

1. When I start working with new students, I always briefly describe the condition with which I live, and the challenges that it can present at times. I tell them that sometimes they might see me struggling a little more than usual to move around…or that it could be the case that they never notice anything at all. Communicating ahead of time makes it a little bit easier on days like today, when my pain and symptoms are quite noticeable. Upon their arrival, I tell them that I’ve having one of those episodes. Without further explanation, they understand what’s going on. We then start, and continue with our lesson.

2. On the positive side, even though these flares are becoming more frequent, I’m still only experiencing them about every other day…and the absolute “worst” part lasts only about an hour. (Oh, but what an hour that is!) I figure that if I can distract myself as much as possible during the first half-hour, then I can actually cruise (in the metaphorical sense of course, because there’s absolutely nothing “smooth” about my joints during this time) through the remaining half-hour. This is a theory that I once again validated earlier today.

3. Last but not least, if I’m going to be in pain, I might as well be doing something that I enjoy.

And this, I guess (answering my question at the start of the post) is why I keep on moving, especially (and most importantly) during those moments when movement seems to be fading into the realm of the impossible.

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

Rheumatoid Arthritis Is A Real Pain In The…Hip

Even though I didn’t mention as much here on my blog, most people who follow me on either Facebook or Twitter are probably already familiar with the fact that I was flaring this past weekend. On the scale of flares it certainly wasn’t one of the worst that I’ve had, but then again that doesn’t necessarily say too much…as each and every flare is indeed its own event.

Earlier today, on my way to my Monday morning physical therapy session (trust me, it’s the best way ever to start the week!) I noticed a new pain; a pain that I was quite unfamiliar with. You see, while over the past few years I’ve had pain in almost every joint in my body (including me jaws), there was one set of joints that had not been affected by pain and inflammation: my hips.

They were sort of like the Switzerland of my autoimmine-ravaged body: 100% neutral, and completely happy to be so!

And just this past weekend, as I was showing my RA Bingo (Flare!) to a friend, I quietly chuckled to myself and wondered if I would ever be able to mark the squares labeled “right hip” or “left hip”.

This morning, I got my “wish”. My hips were flaring…for the first time ever. And just how I’ve learned to distinguish shoulder pain from elbow pain from wrist pain from finger pain from knee pain from ankle pain from shoulder pain, and so on and so on, I’m now learning exactly what it means to have hip pain. (On a serious note, there’s actually something to be said for trying to differentiate these different pains…for me, it seems much more manageable than trying to deal with one overwhelming swath of pain.)

And let me just say, if your hips are one of the joints where RA attacks the most, I now have nothing but the utmost admiration for you. You are, indeed, my superhero.

Now I know, pain in any of the joints can be quite excruciating…but even with all of the problems along the entire length of my left leg, I’ve never quite been in the situation–as I was earlier–where I couldn’t even lie comfortably on my back. Just the pressure being exerted on my hip bone by the weight of my leg seemed too much to bear, and was quite difficult to alleviate.

Luckily, I was (once again) in physical therapy when this new pain presented itself. Rheumatoid arthritis can be many things, but today I learned that it can certainly be, among others, a real pain in the…hip! (Although at times I’d like to use another three-letter word to describe it…)

On the bright side, at least my chances of winning at RA Bingo have now increased. Blackout, anyone?

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

Motion Lines

Even thought I’ve been a designer in some form or another for most of my life, I have never considered myself to be a comic book artist. So during these past few weeks, as I worked on my blog’s new layout and design, I found myself re-reading Scott McCloud’s seminal work Understanding Comics. (I had previously read this book many years ago, when it was all the rage in the web development and interface design community.)

One part of this book that I really enjoyed this time around was the discussion of motion lines, originally called ‘zip-ribbons’, which are used to represent the movement of objects through space in a single panel. (For complete information on the history and different styles and methods of showing movement, be sure to check out the book!)

As I read this section, I chuckled and thought to myself that the next time I found myself being once again slowed down due to my rheumatoid arthritis, all I needed to do was power up Photoshop and add some of these motion lines behind RA Guy. Hence, this new image here to the left.

After almost five and a half weeks of little to no disease activity, my RA once again seems to be slowly tapering up. Yesterday, for the first time in months, I left the house with my crutches.  My left knee in particular has a tendency to go from ‘fine’ to ‘out of order’ is just a matter of seconds. On my way to physical therapy this morning, I once again found myself trying to figure out the best way to cope with the tremendous pain (which was, thankfully, partly relieved within the hour during my PT session.)

How long this will last I have no clue. I’m less concerned about the fact that my flare-free streak seems to be coming to an end, than I am happy with the fact that I had much more time than usual during the past month to take a break from the chronic pain and debilitating inflammation.

Now, I’ll just have to put my cape back on and get back to work…

In the real world I may not be able to move as easily as I did just a few days ago…but in the comic book universe, I’ll continue to do wonders.

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