RA: the only constant is change

What an odd feeling.

The sore muscles in my hips and legs, the consequences of walking a little further Sunday and Monday than I should have, given my general out-of-shape-ness, are fine today. This I expected. Disused muscles tend to yelp for a while after being forced to do more than they’re used to, but they heal and get stronger fairly quickly. De nada.

However, both my hip joints are still vaguely achy and feel, when I stand up fromsitting and go to walk, like they’re loose and shifting a little with each step. I feel (and probably look) like a chubby Pinocchio whose strings are being moved by a half-drunk puppeteer.

While the pain level is quite low and tolerable, that strange, shifty feeling is really disconcerting. When I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I very nearly stumbled over myself and had to grab blindly for the edge of the desk to keep from pitching forward onto my face. Of course, I was sleepy, still half in a dream, but by the time I got down the hall to the bathroom, I was wide awake, stumping along and muttering “ow” with each step.

I’ve written recently about how there are moments when the joints in my fingers feel as if they shift a bit sideways when I grasp and lift things. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does the sensation is unmistakable. And it’s new. In the early years after I was diagnosed with RA, I had frequent pain. Sometimes it was so severe that I could barely tolerate moving the involved joint; at times even touching it made me wince. But I never felt disjointed.

It’s cold and raining/sleeting/snowing again today, so Finny and I won’t be taking another long tramp on the trail. Instead, I’ll do the exercises I was taught by my physical therapist, including the ones she gave me for the hips. When I asked for her to teach me those, I was thinking in terms of an amorphous “someday,” when it was possible my hips would join my hands, ankles and feet in the RA free-for-all. But I didn’t think I’d need them so soon.

Ah, well. This is something to ask my rheumatologist about when I see him in mid-May. But I’ll be honest: It’s times like this when I wish I could reach him by telephone or e-mail for a quick answer. But the VA medical system is such that I can’t do that. I can call the general health advice nurse, but I already know she can’t tell me much about this situation, and will only advise me to visit the VA’s version of the emergency room if it continues to bother me. I won’t do that. While shifty hips are an odd feeling, and worrisome, they’re not an emergency. I truly hate to waste an ER doctor’s time when there are so many vets that need her help far more urgently than I do.

I’m guessing that my long walks stretched the ligaments holding my hip joints in place a bit more than expected; it seems my RA is now affecting my joints in a slightly different way than it did in the past.

Like the spring weather in the mountains, RA is always changing. I guess there’s comfort to be had in knowing that change, however surprising at the moment, is always a certainty with this disease.

5 thoughts on “RA: the only constant is change

  1. You truly have a gift for words, Wren. Indeed it is comforting to know that change is a certainty with RA, both negative and hopefully positive.


  2. I always say that the only thing about RA that is predictable is its unpredictability. I also have the finger issue you are talking about. I am sorry that you are feeling sore and achy. I hope you feel better sore. The positive is that your are still moving and that is all that any of use can ask for when it comes to RA.


  3. If I’m stating something you already know, please forgive me. I have the ever popular ulnar drift on my left hand. If my hand was a compass my pinky is getting real close to due west, and still moving. It freaks me out daily. My index finger has stayed in place, knock on wood, but the loss of strength is really severe. And there’s the joy of having a hand that looks like a lobster claw. God, I hate this disease, but I admire your persistence in the face of it.

    My hand therapist helped stave it off for quite awhile with small braces etc. I know the VA in notoriously slow, maybe you might want to start working on a consultation now. My wrists have been bone of bone for over 25 years, so that may be part of my particular problem. And now I’m watching it happen to my right hand. Did I say now much I hated this disease??

    Hope your beautiful weather is back. Loved the wisteria picture. It’s been so long since I’ve seen any in real life. But spring came early to the flat lands of the north and hopefully something will be blooming soon.


  4. Thanks for the kind words, Stephanie. Yes, there is a little comfort in knowing that RA changes constantly, and yes, sometimes for the better. I hope that will be the case.
    Lana– Being able to move when I want to move IS wonderful. It’s not always been that way, and I’m grateful for joints that are allowing me to do so, even if it hurts.
    Nanc– Only the ring finger of my right hand shows any evidence of drift, and it’s very slight thus far. I’m so sorry yours are headed west; I can only imagine how frustrating it is. Naturally, I hope my hips aren’t starting that slow process! I did go ahead and call the health nurse; as expected, she was unable to offer any ideas, but did promise to get a note to my doctor to call me. That was yesterday; I’ve not heard back from him. So we’ll see what happens. At least I do have a solid appt. for May 15. And the pretty weather IS back. It got up to about 68 today with lots of bright sunshine. My hips were feeling better, so Finny and I went walking again, and walked 3 miles. The last mile was slooooow, and I’m wiped out again right now. But it was great to get outside and move, and my little Finny is doing so great on the leash! We had fun. Tired as I am, it was worth it. 🙂


  5. my ankle is the same…unstable somehow. but 11 years after the onset, yes, it doesn’t freak me out as much. i know it won’t be like this forever and SOME of that forever it has to better, not worse.


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