Gone Shopping

I dreamed last night that I was trying on new hands.

I know. Creepy. But as in most dreams, trying on fresh, new pairs of mitts was as unremarkable as doing the same with new shoes. Except … like it is when I get new shoes, the dream process was fraught with pain and frustration.

See, when I put the first shoe of a new pair on my foot, I know instantly whether the pair will be coming home with me. More often than not, knife-like pain shoots rack of shoesthrough my foot the moment I put my weight down on it. Groaning–and silently shouting expletives in my head–I yank that instrument of torture off my foot, slap it and it’s mate back on the rack, and continue looking. But the fun has gone out of the hunt.

In this dream it was the same thing. I’d pick out a nice, attractive new pair of hands from a row of towering shelves like the kind you see in discount stores.. I’d work the new pair on gently, like gloves (this made absolute sense in the dream), and bend my fingers. Instantly, rude pain would jab into my joints and I’d have to pull the offending hands off and keep looking. With each failure, I became more glumly resigned to keeping the hands I had, even though they were painful and frequently dysfunctional.

I woke suddenly, frustrated and disappointed. Good morning, world.

I’ve only rarely dreamed about my rheumatoid disease. Which is odd, really, considering its grumpy, growl-y domination of my thoughts–of my life–most days. There are a number of creaky body parts I’d love to replace too.

For instance, I’d love a new pair of feet. These old ones are pretty much worn out. They hurt even without shoes, even when they’re warm and toasty. Imagine how nice it would be have new ones! I could walk all over the place, on any surface–even on sharp, uneven gravel–with little or no discomfort. I could wear any kind of shoe my fancy fell on: frivolous little things with wafer-thin soles, gorgeous, dangerous stiletto-heeled pumps, long, sexy, calf-hugging boots, strappy little sandals crusted with glittery jools. I could wear any pair of athletic shoes I wanted, and I could have classy leather oxfords to wear with slacks.

Instead of any of those, the shoes I have to buy must be flat or –maybe–have a very low heel of two inches or less. The toe box must be wide and round, and there has to be a sturdy arch support. If I need to wear the shoes more than an hour or so at a time, the soles need to be soft and–ideally–padded.

So, I have a rack full of overpriced, clunky-looking, old-lady shoes in my closet. My single pair of nice leather pumps are simple and black, with a small, rounded toe and a two-inch heel. I only wear them if I know I won’t have to walk any further than the parking lot and back. Once.

I could really appreciate a new pair of hips, too. To start, I’d get a smaller pair, since the ones I was born with have always beena little too wide for my taste. But more importantly, I’d choose hips that didn’t hurt. I’d get a pair that didn’t jab me every time I took a step, or start aching when I sat still for more than a few minutes. I’d love a pair that didn’t throb during the night, waking me up and forcing me to roll to one side, then the other, over and over until morning.

Dreams can be fun, and they do have a tendency to put images to amorphous longings. But that’s all. Reality requires that I live with the hands, feet, and hips I have, however grumbly they make me. And being realistic also means that I’m grateful. For what? That my rheuma-dragon hasn’t caused more damage than this; that the meds I’m taking for it are keeping the old monster drowsy and bumbling; and that there’s always hope for the future.

So much of life depends on our attitude and outlook. I try to keep mine positive and optimistic, to keep smiling, and to keep my eyes peeled for the gifts it offers every single day.

And, of course, I dream of a cure.