I’d rather live day-by-day not thinking about the disease, not wondering what that random twinge in my knee means (just a twinge, or the start of a bad flare?). I’d rather not have to take a literal handful of pills every morning and evening. My family, I’m sure, would rather not have to hear about my sore hands, though I must say they’re pretty good about pitching in when I discover I’ve pushed myself too far.
Like last night. I decided to make chicken burritos for dinner. I baked some frozen chicken tenderloin pieces, let them cool, and got a couple of forks and a bowl to shred the baked chicken into. Got started—and realized a minute later that my hands just weren’t going to accept this particular chore. I’d already forced them to endure several hours of early-morning firewood-stacking. They were holding up surprisingly well, but holding two forks and shredding chicken was the last straw.
So I asked Mr. Wren to do it while I prepared the other ingredients. He did, and we worked together on dinner. It was nice, and the meal turned out tasty.
But in spite of my triple-whammy-drug-regime and how I feel (ever hopeful) that it just might be working, there still isn’t a day that goes by that I can forget I have RA. My sleep last night was restless because of bursitis pain in my hips. The bursitis, I understand, it a sort of side-effect of rheumatoid arthritis. The bursitis is odd. The pain is bad enough to wake me over and over, and make me uncomfortable, but not bad enough that I need medical intervention. I’ll admit that the idea of steroid injections in my hips gives me the heeby-jeebies, but if the pain gets really bad, I’ll make an appointment and get them. I really will. But so far, I haven’t reached that point, and I hope not to.
Tonight my hands and wrists continue to ache, but this pain is almost nothing compared to the pain I used to endure. It’s almost embarrassing. And yet my hands are painful enough that I cannot ignore them. I take Tylenol and tramadol, dip them in warm paraffin, and put my Spidey-gloves on, wishing that the pain would just go away once and for all.
Well, it won’t. I know that. One of the hard things about living with rheumatoid arthritis is knowing that it can change at any moment. My pain is unpleasant but bearable today, seemingly under control with the help of my medications. Yet even as I celebrate that fact (and I am grateful!) I can’t help but worry about what I’ll do should my RA go south on me and get suddenly much worse. I can’t help but remember, with real dread, the truly severe, intense, days-long flares I used to endure in my shoulders, knees, ankles, toes and even my neck and jaws. How would I handle that awful pain now, all these years later? I’m a lot older and not quite as strong or resilient, now. And I worry about painkilling medications. I can no longer take Vicodin or Percocet comfortably; I guess I’ve taken them for so long over the years that they longer work for me in normal dosages; both make me feel rotten when I take them. So I stay away from them by choice. But I wonder: how will I handle a really bad flare, one that’ll require a pain medication stronger than tramadol?
I know I shouldn’t worry about what hasn’t happened and may not happen. I know that when and if it does, I’ll manage somehow, just like I did before. I want to have faith in the meds I’m taking now, that they’ll continue to work for a good, long, time; that the fact that they seem to be working isn’t just a fluke.
I’d like to live each day not thinking about my RA. But it’s pretty hard not to.