On pain, drugs and a day on the couch*

*Alternate title, The Day Rheumatoid Arthritis came to stay.

Normally on a Monday I spend the day at work, sitting on kid sized chairs, singing The Wally Wombat Shuffle, saying put your coat on, put your coat on, put your coat on, yes a jacket is like a coat,  put. your. coat. on.

Not today. After a restless night with a bottle of water and panadol by my side, clock watching for the magic four hour mark so I could wolf down more pain killers, today I have  made it from my bed to the couch. Phoned my GP and had a few texts back and forwards from staff at work.  Go me.  But I’m not sick.  I am, however, having a flair up.

Way back when I was twenty one I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  RA for short. Lovely.  In lots of ways I have been lucky. I was diagnosed early in my diseases development.  So medication has been my friend since then keeping damage and pain minimal.  You see while there is no cure for RA, medication helps keep the symptoms at bay.  Symptoms that left unchecked cause irreversible damage and disfigurement to the affected joints. There can also be periods of remission.  For me, this was while I was pregnant and breastfeeding.  So, I had a good four years off.

When I was first diagnosed I did not react well. I loved to run, and was told in no uncertain terms to stop.  It was suggested I took up low impact exercise, like water aerobics.  Awesome. Just me, some friends I managed to drag along and a bunch of middle aged women – now while I am now perhaps *cough* considered middle aged, as a first year out of uni, young thing about town, water aerobics just wasn’t for me.  I also think my original diagnosis and subsequent ineffectual counselling was mismanaged.  But, you live, you learn.  (Also, thinking about how to live with RA has changed, my GP and a physiotherapist I saw last year both encouraged me to run – just not on hard surface too often.  Move it or lose it.)

So, back to today.  I am in pain.  A fair amount of pain.  Look, I was lucky enough to be able to give birth to two children drug free.  I didn’t want to cry then, but I do now.  My legs hurt. My knees, my calves, my ankles.  My shoulders, my wrists my fingers all hurt. Panadol is pretty useless.  But neurofen can counteract against my daily preventative meds. Daily meds that mean I need to have blood tests annually now (used to be monthly) to make sure they are not causing liver or kidney damage. So, it’s off to the GP for some harder hitting anti inflammatory drugs.  Hopefully ones that don’t upset my digestive system too much.  Or make me sleepy and unable to drive.

This flair up came on kind of suddenly.  Over the past week I have had some niggling pain as I sit on the couch, but not too much.  I wonder if it has happened because I have not been running.  Allowing my leg to heal fully from am injury not related to RA? I wonder if it’s because I have let more wheat back into my diet? Or because it’s cold?

What ever the reason, I hope it’s sorted soon.  I hate not being at work, I hate not running, I hate the pain and fatigue that RA brings.  But, for now, it’s trashy daytime TV, a heater turned up high, a soft blanket, cushions and lots of earl grey tea.

As Dory says, just keep swimming… but no one mention water aerobics.

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