The night before last, my flurry of recent activity finally caught up to me. The sharp pain in my feet finally subsided only to travel upward in my body and settle into my right shoulder. A hot shower and a dose of advil gave me some relief yesterday morning, but by afternoon my whole body was engaged.
The arm bone should fit nicely into that shoulder socket and find support from muscles and tendons. The fact that both shoulders are now fully engaged makes me keenly aware that it is the RA flaring. When that happens, it’s a race to find relief.
I am doing what I can with diet and exercise, but it is an uphill battle. The drugs used to treat these symptoms are fraught with side effects that can be worse than the disease. I didn’t realize how much they were taking from me until I was taken off of them and got my life back.
Well, I got a big part back.
The combination I was on a year ago felt like a small needle was inserted into my brain somewhere and scrambled my thoughts. It was hard to engage, so I didn’t. It felt like everything had come to a screeching halt and forming sentences was like a bird in a dark room desperately flitting about in search of light.
In January, I went off one of the two medications. I felt better right away but it soon gave way to some really dark thoughts. I’m not used to feeling so discouraged at such an intense level. It was hard to describe. All I really knew was that it didn’t feel organic and it was scaring me. I spoke to my doctor and he agreed to take me off that medication too.
Seven weeks later I am experiencing my first bad flare. Now the work begins. How can I manage the pain without selling my soul to the pharmaceutical companies ? It’s a delicate balance.
Hiking, quite literally, saves me. If there is an expectation, it is only that I breathe a little deeper and take more air into my lungs. There is no conversation. There is no panic in the moments as I search for something clever (or even coherent) to say. I get to just “be”. And move. Movement is life.
Last year at this time I was spending my last full day at Mineral School. My classroom was at the far end of the hall and after returning from an excursion into Ashford, I ran into Brittney on the polished hardwoods near the bathrooms. A little hummingbird had found his way inside the building and was flying wildly about. Brittney was watching him use his precious energy to stay in a hover-like mode near the ceiling. It was difficult to imagine him surviving, given that the wings of an average hummingbird beat up to 80 times per second. There was some determination in her eyes. And so we set out to save him.
A broom, colorblocks of paper, a red cup, a swim noodle and root beer. Surely something would entice the little guy out the back double-doors toward the gym. We may have spent the better part of two hours. During that time a second hummingbird made his way into the building. He left pretty quickly, but nothing could inspire this other little guy to drop down far enough to exit to his freedom.
The root beer seemed attractive and so we set up a cup near the door. It worked ! I watched him fly out and then quickly shut the doors behind him.
My vacation is off to a slow start.
I’m feeling a little like that hummingbird today. Expending all kinds of energy to escape the trap that is this body sometimes. Last night my right hand was so swollen I couldn’t hold a pen. Last time this happened it took weeks and an unhealthy dose of Prednisone to calm everything down. Today I’m seeking a new cure.
A new way down from the ceiling.
A new way out of the darkness
A new way through the gate
and into the light …