Welcome to the bat cave. The coffee pot is full, so help yourself. Please excuse the dog as she has not had her walk yet and probably thinks that if she jumps high enough into your arms, you’ll take her out! I’m a bit slow today. My arthritis has decided to flare like an alien beast in my body.
Before, I couldn’t tell you what was wrong with me. It took years before I realised that these episodes of pain and lethargy were related to each other and not caused by some external virus. I remember, after the death of my mother (now five years ago), I was under so much stress, I lost quite a few pounds/kilos, going from a size ten to a size six. My friends, work colleagues and family would ask me if I was okay and I would often wonder what they saw that I didn’t see. My clothes still fit me and I was happy to squeeze into my daughters’ dresses and not think about it. The pain, excrutiating aches emanating from different areas of my body were put down to over exercise or lifting heavy furniture (which I often move about) and the lethargy was due to the colds I frequently caught. Those swollen joints in my hands and lumps appearing under my skin with my frozen shoulders lasted for weeks. I couldn’t even go for a shower or go to the bathroom without hurting. The ultimate pain was when it spread to my chest. Every breathe made my chest bones move and pain radiated out from one particular bone that stuck out more than the others. A little bone with so much might.
My existence became fueled by anti-inflammatories. It was time to visit the doctor and get a proper diagnosis instead of all the other mini visits for each ailment and getting a different prognosis each time, such as carpel tunnel syndrome, frozen shoulder and muscle strains. After blood tests and further examinations, I was referred to the rheumatology clinic to get help on how to cope with the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. I didn’t go. I had watched my parents receive treatment for the same and I distinctly remember the amount of drugs they had to take to keep moving. That was not for me. Instead, I started doing research on the symptoms, treatments and time scale for different people suffering from this ailment. It was time to take control of the situation.
The first thing was to reduce the stress in my life and change my diet. I also had to stop moving heavy furniture and playing tennis as that was aggravating my shoulders and tearing my tendons. It took a month for the chest pain to go away; my fingers and their lovely lumps took a while longer. I spoke to a work colleague who had gone down the route of taking medication to help slow her symptoms. I wasn’t too keen on the treatment she described as having as she was informed by her doctor that she couldn’t just quit the meds but would have to be weaned off over time. The thought of being held hostage in a course of treatment did not appeal and sent flashbacks of my parents, so instead, I took her advice on books to read regarding healthy diets for arthritic sufferers. My weight picked up and I found that by eating certain foods and drinking water instead of sugary drinks, the flares reduced and I returned to my normal life. I was a happy bunny.
Years have passed and I’m still getting the flares. I am more aware of what’s causing them. Poor eating habits and drinking way too much caffeine or sugar drinks drives me to the brink of achiness. Add to that the stress of the lockdown and the added stress of being the only driver in the house and therefore the only one available to get supplies, you have the perfect conditions for flares to occur. My Hubble tries to help out and he does an excellent job of keeping me up to date with my vitamins and foodie bits to help keep the flares under control. But, on days like today when I haven’t slept well all week and my stress levels have been higher than usual, it is inevitable that a flare would occur.
I appreciate you sitting with me, sharing a cup of coffee in the bat cave and listening to me moan. Sometimes, that’s all I need to feel a little better. The fatigue and the aching will slowly dissipate over the next few days, but your company is priceless in helping me relax. I do wonder, as we sit here together: do you have something that you suffer from? Fancy sharing your pain with me?