I read an article online this morning about how patients with RA never know if it’s going to be a good day or bad, and can’t help but agree how very true that is. I wish there was a way to know upon waking if my day is going to be fabulous or terrible; not in terms of mental health, but in joint inflammation and pain.
Two days ago I found out that the increasingly bad pain in my right foot over the course of the last three months was due to a torn tendon. Basically I’ve been continually aggravating it by ignoring the pain and walking on it without treating the issue. Of course a torn tendon doesn’t really have a treatment option. It’s really just wrapping my foot tightly with a bandage, and buying an expensive pair of shoes with better arch support. On the day I found out I ended up doing a little more waking than I should have, so I figured I’d be in a fair amount of pain the following day.
But yesterday I woke up feeling great. Sure, my foot was still sore from the tendon issue, and per usual I was having light flaring in my hands and elbows as a result of my RA. But it was manageable.
A few months ago I made the decision to be as active as possible on days that I felt good. If I woke up feeling less pain then usual I would make the most out of my mobility, I’d get the laundry done, or clean the house a little more thoroughly. That way if I had a cluster of bad days I wouldn’t feel annoyed that my house was dirty, or run out of clean underwear.
And so when I woke up feeling good yesterday, that’s exactly what I did. I washed a load of laundry, deep cleaned my cats litter box, and swept and mopped my floors. After that was done I even baked a batch of peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies for my friends whom I was seeing in the afternoon. I felt great.
When 1pm rolled around I hopped on a bus and headed into town to the good movie theatres, where I planned to see a $6 movie with friends at 4. I left early so I could stroll through Bed, Bath, & Beyond where I had a leftover Xmas gift card with a balance of $50 remaining. The store was about six blocks from the bus stop, so by the time I got there my RA had started to rear its head. My foot was aching and my hands had gotten a bit puffy. But my fitbit told me I’d already walked my goal of six thousand steps so I was feeling mentally fantastic.
After purchasing a milk frother that I’d had my eye on, I met up with my friends and we watched the new Leo DiCaprio movie, The Revenant. Man, talk about violence. I can’t believe how many parents took their small children in with them. Can you say “nightmares for life”?
My movie got out long after the sun had set, and I didn’t make it home til close to 8pm. On the bus ride home I convinced myself to get off the bus three stops before mine and pick up some chili since the night indeed felt chilly. By the time I sat down on my couch to enjoy my dinner both feet were swollen and discolored in an unappetizing shade of purple. Lucky for me I had picked up a brand new heated foot spa at the thrift store last week for the incredible price of $5.99, so a healing foot bubble bath was in my future.
Because I’d had such a hard day on my feet the day before, but had felt fine the following day, I had hoped that yesterday’s busy day would be followed with another pain free morning today. Alas, RA just doesn’t work that way….
So it seems what I really need in my life is a Magic 8 Ball, the Rheumatoid Arthritis version. I can shake it the night before to see what I’ll be dealing with the following morning. If I had one last night maybe I would have foreseen 3am’s brutal attack on my hands and wrists. Or maybe even the night sweats that visited around 5am, leaving me stranded by pain in bed amongst dripping wet sheets.
RA doesn’t have a warning system. We don’t know when the pain is coming. We don’t even know why. There’s no alarm that goes off, telling us to brace ourselves for an attack on our already tight muscles, our continually inflamed joints, the aches that never leave us. One day we are good, and one day we are not. Monday was a rough day, full of pain and suffering. Tuesday was filled with sunshine, long walks, and smiles. Here is Wednesday and I’m using dictation because my fingers can’t hold my stylus to write. We just don’t know what we are in for.
I really need to get a Magic 8 ball. Maybe it can prepare me for what comes tomorrow..