For the past month (at least a month, could be a little longer), I have awakened each morning in pain. Well, more pain than usual. My left hand would have pain and swelling, and I couldn’t make a full fist. In time, the stiffness in the hand would subside enough. It still hurts during the day, but it’s tolerable. Same with my feet and my knees. Yep, I’m in a flare. For those who don’t speak arthritis, a flare is pretty much when your arthritis is more under control, but then the bad stuff comes back so fast and furious, you half expect Vin Diesel to be driving over your joints directly. I don’t know if there is any scientific reason behind what causes it or how to predict when it will happen. I know some have said it can be weather-triggered, some food-triggered, some stress-triggered. For me, I know it’s coinciding with a change in medication.
Anyway, as I say, this past month has been trying. I have gotten used to my medication taking care of the worst of my arthritis. I will admit, I’ve gotten a little spoiled by it. But it is a reality for those of us with immune-related arthritis.
Whenever I hurt, especially for an extended period of time, the worst-case scenario of my brain starts to take over. Does this mean that my medicine has stopped working? Will I have to switch to another medicine? Am I just worse now and have to live with it? Is this the start of a decline? I didn’t say these were healthy thoughts, just saying they are thoughts.
Something that also flares up during this time is my fatigue. I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about fatigue yet, but look forward to that in the future. Fatigue with arthritis is not just tired, like you need to sit and rest for a few minutes. No, arthritis fatigue is much more of a full body and soul sort of tired. It’s just a total lack of energy. It’s enough for me to get up and go to work. Doing much more than that, that’s not usually in the cards.
I have learned from my own research -- by that I mean my medical professionals and my friends with arthritis -- that moving helps with flare pain. Isn’t that the irony of ironies -- I’m hurting, so move more. It is strange, but it is true. I am doing my best to move around more these days because of this. It is working. To continue my theme of irony, however, I am also having to be cognizant of not doing too much. Last weekend I had to clear out my bedroom and them load it back in due to new furniture being delivered. After all that physical labor, I was wiped out as if I had done a lot more than I had.
My skin hasn’t flared up too badly, but it has some. I’ve noticed some places on my forehead, a place on my thumb, and some pitting on one of my fingernails. Fingernail pitting is a classic sign of psoriatic arthritis. It is what it sounds like, a small pinhead size pit shows up on your nails. When I was first diagnosed, this was a more prevalent symptom. Since my medication started working, it has pretty much gone away.
So for now, I wait. I see my rheumatologist in a few weeks. I will mention this to him and get his expert opinion. I mentioned earlier that this has coincided with a medication. A few months ago, my doctor decreased the dosage of one of my medications due to some of the side effects. But now, the side effects are still there, but maybe slightly less, but the pain and stiffness are worse. I have a feeling this will lead to another discussion about dosage. This is the life of medication and disease management.
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