I feel miserable. Trying not to whine, but here are the facts:
- All my joints are aching
- I feel like I have the flu (achy, cold, etc.)
- I’m exhausted
- I have no energy
- My hands and wrists are swollen and inflamed
Yes, for those of you out there who have RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)—you know what I’m talking about. I am having a “flare”—an exacerbation of my disease. In the 3 years since I was diagnosed with RA, I have only had a handful of flares and none as bad and as long-lasting as this one. I have even resorted to the dreaded prednisone in hopes of getting some relief, but it is not happening this time.
I know what can bring a flare on, and one of the leading contenders is stress. It is true that family matters are causing me some stress, so even though I am usually a “go with the flow” kind of gal, I am finding this to be a challenge. Luckily for me, I have an appointment with my rheumatologist in two days. I really don’t want this to be seen as a fail of the medication I am currently on, because I’ve been doing well on it so far.
So, I have been mining the internet for suggestions on how to deal with a flare and, not surprisingly, found the same suggestions we all know will help treat the disease at any time.
I don’t know about anyone else, but between the RA and the medications I take for it, I am tired all the time. It is one of the most frustrating things about living with RA, and usually resistant to medication relief. Having a flare increases that fatigue so much it feels like I am trying to swim through syrup even when I am just walking from one room to the next. Just call me “slow motion Cheri”!
Experts recommend going with the flow and just rest more. One physician called for a chocolate and duvet day—in other words, stay in bed and pamper yourself. That’s my kind of doctor! Seriously, it is important for you and your loved ones to understand that during a flare you are just not going to be capable of performing at peak fitness and energy.
Not only does your family need to understand, but you may need to prepare your workplace for the necessity of you working less or from home, if possible, until the flare is calmed.
If you are anything like me, the arthritis meds already are doing a number on your gut, so the thought of adding anything else that may irritate it makes you shudder. This is not the time to be picky about using the pain meds and/or prednisone your rheumatologist has prescribed. Trust me—I hate prednisone with a passion and I have a high pain tolerance, so I am right there with you! But we need to be able to function to some degree, so take the pills! Don’t be a martyr.
A hot cup of coffee or tea or even just hot lemon water to wrap your hands around will help. As will the idea my doctor gave me—fill a tube sock with rice, tie the end and pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Then wrap around your hands, your wrists, your elbows, knees—you get the picture. Since socks come in a pair—make two rice packs and be twice as happy.
A hot shower or bath is lovely to loosen up the stiff and achy joints and help the chills and achiness. Make sure to pull on soft, warm socks and comfy pajamas to make your body go aahhhh!
Work Out the Kinks
While an initial day in bed and then, just taking more frequent naps/rests is helpful; staying inactive will ultimately make you stiffer. Gentle stretching, such as in yoga, short walks in supportive comfortable shoes and sitting at a computer writing a blog about how miserable you are will keep the juices flowing! Just be sure to create a balance between activity and rest to help you through this flare.
Mind Over Body
There is a lot to be said for meditation, prayer and quiet contemplation to help reduce any stress that is contributing to your current condition. I can assure you that the prayer lines between me and God are burning up! I am begging for help and peace in our family.
Of course, if no matter what you do, the flare continues, you need to see your doctor. That is what I am doing. My flare has been going on for two weeks and is not getting better. I am ready to cry “uncle” to my disease and turn my rheumatologist loose on it!
Aching but still blessed here in my amazing grace filled life.