Saturday, May 11, 2013

Four Months

There was a doctor's appointment this past week. It had been delayed from April while I finished up physical therapy. Then, it was rescheduled twice due to work. I demanded to take it when this last reschedule came up. Some things, particularly when you're dealing with a chronic disease, must be taken seriously.

I was worried about my timing as the office phone rang just as I was shutting off my computer for the day. To answer or not to answer, that is the question. Hamlet could wax three times as long if he mused on the question of answering the phone because you wish to provide excellent customer service versus getting, on time, to a doctor's appointment that you have rescheduled twice already. Would I cause someone else after me to be delayed? I certainly didn't want that, but I answered the phone and discovered it was an easy call to handle. I actually said, out loud, to the phone, "I'm leaving now. Don't you dare ring."

So, off I went, arriving in a driving rain. And the umbrella I considered tossing in the car hung quietly in the front closet. It was a warm spring rain, however, and the distance to traverse to the hospital, not far. I can get damp. I'll be just fine and I'll enjoy the walk, actually.

I am through with travel, for the time being. A potential trip downstate has not materialized. There is the rumor of travel into the city, to the south side, specifically, but we await confirmation. Through all of this and the troubles with the Jeep, I waited, with baited breath, the arrival of an RA flare. I know these. They start with itchy, dry eyes. Then, my joints ache, not just the knees that need to be strengthened, but my wrists and fingers. I feel more than a little tired and I don't sleep soundly at night. Flares ups are different for everyone but this is what I endure. In the throes of a full-on flare, every joint aches in some possible way and I must go back on prednisone to control the swelling and pain.

I waited, certain of this inevitability. I experienced merely a couple days of either the left or the right eye being drier and itchier than usual. That's it. I am tired but that can be traced solely back to spending hours upon hours in the car going from point A to point B and back again, of worry about the costs associated with a Jeep that wasn't working or of the prospect of getting back in the Jeep and driving some more and having a 12 hour day to get home and into my own bed.

As I sat with Dr. Francis, going over everything, we remembered a year ago, when I first came to see her and where I was in May of last year. Movement was painful. Getting up from a seated position meant I put my feet where they needed to be to stand and then stood up. That completed, I took a step forward with the right foot and followed with the left. Walking was a conscious decision. I had to figure out the optimum distance between feet when I stood up. I had to think about moving one foot forward and following that with the other. Think about how you stand up and go. Push your chair back, stand up and walk. I had to think about every single step in that action because of the pain. And I often didn't stand up until vitally necessary simply because it hurt; my hips, my knees, my ankles and my feet. God help me if ever there was an emergency requiring swift movement. Wasn't going to happen.

Now, however, I don't even think about standing up and walking. My hands and wrists don't hurt, haven't hurt in months. If I got back into crocheting, as I will when I finish this cross-stitch piece, I'm sure I'll have some twinges in my thumbs, maybe a pop in the wrist with movement of the yarn and the needle, but this is nothing. The combination of physical therapy for my knees and the drugs for the RA have improved my quality of life ten thousand percent. That seems hyperbole, but, to me, it's the truth. We're going through a trough in spring weather where the warmth of late spring has been usurped by the chill and damp of early spring with the accompanying rains that brings. My knees hurt, a lot, but I know this will pass with time and exercise.

Therefore, I am not required to see Dr. Francis for four months; that's 4; count 'em; 1, 2, 3, 4; months. That's the entire summer. She's there if I need her but I am a success story. The injectable drug I was strongly considering back in December, is off the table of RA measures.

When I started walking this road, I figured there would be highs and lows, as there are with any illness. I would savor the highs, because they would be brief, but I would learn to manage the lows, since I felt that's where I would generally spend my time. It would be about seeing the lows as normal for life and embracing what I could do within them. I never dreamed I would feel that I am almost back to a point as if nothing had happened. Do I like taking 9 pills on the weekend? No. I'd rather I didn't have to take any, but I will happily take them now because I see they keep me healthy.

Beverage:  Irish Breakfast tea


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