I’m seriously trying not to complain. For nearly the past two years I feel that’s all I’ve done. But now. Sigh. Now it’s different. I actually know this time that people will not understand where I’m coming from and most will consider my explanations as some kind of grasp for attention. You wanna know why I’m limping? I should lie. I should say I sprained it saving a baby from a runaway horse or I twisted it trying out some one-legged standing sex pose. Perhaps I could say I went beyond my experience during tantric yoga. I’d like to say anything rather than the truth.
The truth. Sigh. I have rheumatoid arthritis. And it sucks. And it really likes eating my right ankle.
People have told me to take fish oils. I do already. They’ve told me to take calcium. I don’t because I’ve done the research on that. I take magnesium. They’ve said I should try glucosamine. Have I also tried chondroitin? Yes. And MSM. I take turmeric. I eat ginger like crazy. But to no or little avail. I am in pain. And the reason is most of these work for osteoarthritis, not RA. The only bonus is my knees don’t ache like they did four months ago when I had my first major mind-blowing flare. Oh, which was when I was diagnosed. Welcome to being 36-years-old, Sheri. By the way, over the next ten or twenty years of your life you will become more and more crippled and eventually, should you not die of RA-induced heart disease, you’ll probably end up bed-ridden from pain and deformity. Er. Great.
With osteoarthritis, the joints degenerate over years of rubbing and overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis is a different kind of degeneration. No one knows what causes it, and there are tons of theories, but basically, the body’s own immune system begins to attack its own joints. It can no longer recognize the intruder from itself. This internal sort of “war” creates a pain like no other. I’m the loser here. It’s a searing burning pain, like parts of me are melting on the inside. Like I’m being electrocuted with fork tines that some phantom keeps jabbing into me. And the swelling. Ah – the swelling. That feels like my joints are stuffed too full with bees. And every time I move that joint the bees get angry and sting for a while until they settle. But should I move the joint again … the hive gets riled again.
I spend most of my free time reading. I read about the immune system. I read blogs from others who have experience with this disease. I research theories and treatments. I could write pages and pages of what I’ve learned about this disease, but I don’t want to bore anyone.
I try to find ANY thing that will help me manage this pain naturally. Most drugs used to treat RA are immunosuppressant. So the theory is if the immune system is kept retarded, it can’t attack the joints. That’s great and all, until someone coughs swine flu onto me. Plus they say the disease is more easily treatable in the first two years of onset. Unfortunately, I think I’ve been undiagnosed for a long long time. I recall an appointment with a doctor (whom I just learned was a rheumatologist) telling me I have fibromyalgia in 2007. She also told me I had a rheumatoid factor in my blood then as well. (Other tests sealed my fate.) Regretfully, I never went back to her. I thought it was a crock of shit. I was invincible, of course. I confess. I am an idiot.
So I’m taking an active stance in this battle – this war of my insides. I have bought a juicer and I juice. I take my supplements. I am still on prednisone, but I’m weaning myself off of it. I will stay off the toxic DMARDs they want me to take. I exercise, albeit gently. I have hope that I will be unlike the millions who have not found the cure for this disease and triumph where they have failed. I will try not to complain, and the next time someone asks me why I’m limping I will tell them it’s a shower-sex injury. I haven’t had a soda in four months. I have cut out dairy. I miss cheese sooo much. And I am working on changing so many eating habits that I’m sure I will attain sainthood in the near future. Apparently there’s a link between nightshade vegetables and inflammation. I really miss salsa.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a shitty disease. No one in my family has it, that I know of. I have no idea where or how I got it. But I got it. And I’m stuck with it. And while I don’t expect anyone to understand, I am going to do my best to educate myself, my family and others about this creature. I’m keeping another page going, My RA Odyssey, where I will keep documenting it. So until the next breatk-through, I’ll be juicing and taking my fish oils. And telling fanciful lies about my limping.