You know, I hate not knowing.
I’m just about the most curious person I know, and I like to know. I like to know everything that I can know. Searching for answers gives me joy. When I find them, when I know … well, I just love that. I love knowing.
But there’s one big thing in my life that I don’t know. I never know. Even though I’ve searched and searched for answers, I just don’t know the answer to this one.
OK. By now you’re grinding your teeth. Come on, Wren! you’re muttering. What is this thing you don’t know? Tell us, already!
I don’t know when my RA will flare up.
I don’t know if my next flare will be a doozy or the kind I can shrug off. Sure, I know what causes the flares. I mostly know what to do about them, or, at least, how to treat them. Heat, ice, painkillers, range-of- motion exercises, distracting activities like reading or writing or listening to music. Easy-peasy.
And I don’t know when the flare will come. Will I wake up with it? Will it hit while I’m at the grocery store? While I’m pushing my uncle in his wheelchair around the VA hospital? When? Come on. I wanna know!
I don’t know which joint (or joints) will be affected, either. Will it be my right foot, while I’m driving in heavy traffic? My left hand, while I’m writing on deadline? (I’ve had nightmares for years about that one.) Will it be one shoulder or the other when I’ve got a busy day looming, full of errands and responsibilities I can’t reschedule or cancel without causing myself or others a lot of trouble?
That’s the thing about rheumatoid/autoimmune/inflammatory arthritis. You just can’t know. You can’t know when the flare will happen, which part of your body will hurt like a you-know-what, and you can’t know how long it will last. A few minutes? A few hours? Several hours? A day? Two days? A week?
And finally, I don’t know what other people think about me when I gimp on the left foot one day, the right foot the next. And when they see me again, it’s my hand that’s bad. Anyone who knows me also knows I have RA, because I’ve had to tell them why I was disabled that way yesterday, this way today, and maybe that way tomorrow.
But I still wonder if they think I’m faking it, just for the attention (a worry that makes me cringe.)
I just don’t know.
Well, I’ll keep looking for the answer. I really, really want to know.