An old friend found me on Facebook and got in touch recently. It’s been many, many years since we’ve talked; I’ve thought of J frequently and wished fervently we hadn’t lost contact with one another. Needless to say, I was totally delighted to hear from her.
What a lovely gift for the new year!
We chatted with Facebook’s IM function for a while, exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, and promised not to lose touch again. I came away from our short, happy conversation with a big smile on my face. She is one of the most beautiful, joyous people I’ve ever known. From the moment we met, we hit it off. J is a soulfriend. There are so few of those! She has the most wonderful laugh … and the most wonderful heart.
As we talked, I told her I write a couple of blogs. When she read the name of this one, she asked, does that mean you’re still having that awful pain?
I told her I am, but it’s not nearly as awful as it once was. I changed the subject and we talked about other things.
But later, I got to thinking about it. My old friend J is the only person, other than my daughter, who remembers the awful RA flares I used to go through when I lived in Germany. In fact, she frequently stepped in and ran my office for a day or three at a time when I couldn’t make it to work; when I was so crippled from joint pain and so out of it from pain meds that I was barely coherent.
It’s strange how isolated a person can feel with this disease. Cary remembers how I was back then, but her memories are, naturally, those of a child. Since she’s been an adult, she’s never seen me battle a flare as bad as I used to have. Mr Wren and I were married to other people back then. When we first got back together in the early 90s, he knew I limped and gimped now and then and I told him I had RA, but he’s never seen me deal with a serious, truly debilitating flare. My Mom and sister haven’t either. My fearsome memories are mine alone.
Sometimes I feel like I’m whining, like I’m a little too obsessed with the return of my RA symptoms. While they’re not as bad as they were before I went into remission, this disease is so damned sneaky. With each twinge and ache I flash back instantly to those agonizing old days. My mind cringes away from the memories and I fill with dread. I know that rheuma can ramp up at any moment. It won’t give me any warning. And the fact that I haven’t had a truly horrible flare, but just medium-sized, painful ones and little, nagging ones since the symptoms returned does not reassure me that I never will have a really bad one again.
I know better.
And yet I treasure the time I spent living and working in Germany. It was a life-changing time, a time when my mind opened, a time when I learned more than I ever thought I could. The rheuma pain is a part of that time in my life, woven deeply through it. There was so much I did in spite of the debilitating pain.
So. Am I obsessing about my RA? Am I being overwrought? Am I fearing something I have no real reason to fear anymore? I don’t know. But getting back in touch with J and having her validate my memories the way she did went a long way toward putting that niggling worry to rest. I’m not hysterical. I’m not a hypochondriac. This isn’t just in my head. My RA was and is real. I have lived through and coped with truly excruciating pain, and I did it with grace and, to the best of my ability, with a smile on my face.
I remember. And my dear friend does too.
I love facebook. I have reunited with several old classmates since I have been on it. It’s great to catch up with old friends, talking about the stuff we did in high school. It suddenly made me realize how freakin’ old I am talking about things we did 35 years ago!
I am with you Wren. I only have one person who truly knows and understands what I intitially went through and have been going through.
It’s so good and so important to have someone who understands and remembers the pain we go through when RA is at its worst. I’m lucky that my parents have been with me through all of it, and they can tell instantly when I’m in pain and when things are worse than usual. I do sort of dread having a partner or husband in the future who has to learn it all from the beginning.
It’s nice reconnecting with old friends on Facebook! I like what you mentioned, in regards to RA being sneaky. Even though I continue to get more used to it, the moments of just crying out in pain cease to take place…but I’ve come to learn that this is part of my RA, and that releasing these emotions helps me move through the coping cycle. So no you are not obsessing about your RA…I’ve found that living with RA required just the correct amount of balance between paying too little attention to my illness and paying too much attention to my illness. The fact that this balancing point constantly changes doesn’t make it any easier…but at least I’m sort of getting the hang of it!
I really enjoyed reading this post Wren and I am so glad you reconnected with a longlost friend. I have found it comforting to reconnect with friends that knew me before now. It gives me a sense that I have always been who I am but also shows me how much I have changed. These people are a nice reminder of that.