In answer to several emails, I think this will help.
I've had RA for over a decade. My Mother had it before me decided to pass it on along with her really bad teeth, tendency towards ingrown toenails, stubbornness, inability to ask for or take help easily and unsightly skin flaps on a body part that should be kissed and not operated on to remove um...unsightly skin flaps.
I'm just a siren, thanks to Mom.
I cried at work last Friday and got caught. I was mortified beyond words. Both of my colleagues were taking vacation days, so I was the one to open and close the office. It was a bad time for RA to strike. I usually wake up with very stiff hands but knew one morning that something was very different. I felt as if several fingers on each hand were filled with boiling hot oil. They were swollen and purplish. I couldn't bear to touch or be touched.
Went to work anyway because well....I'm a fucking trooper, that's why. I just tried to keep my hands out of sight. Called my RA doctor. Out of town, but would check for messages, they'd call me later.
Generally, when RA attacks, if I get a shot of cortisone, the swelling goes down and once I can stand the pain, I get better in about a week. The worst is when it attacks my knees or ankles as I am either bedridden or have to wobble around with my cane.
I'd never had it this bad in my hands before. Maybe a joint or two. Never three fingers of one hand and two of the other.
RA doctor's nurse finally called back. No shot until he could see me. Oral prednisone. If you are diabetic, as I am, this means that you cannot eat carbs because your blood sugar is going to go high.
I was in so much pain, hard to explain how fingers can fell a person. I had said goodbye to everyone and was quietly sitting at my desk waiting for a conference call that was to come in at 4:15. And suddenly, I just lost it.
Put my head on my desk and wept. So frustrated at doctors who go on vacations at inopportune times. Frustrated at having type 1 diabetes, RA, pre-lupus. I'm a cancer survivor, I just think once you've battled cancer, you should get a free pass for pain after that. But, no. I am human. I am a lucky human. I have health insurance.
I cried anyway. It all just hurt so much.
I heard a small noise in the doorway and looked up to see Martine, our office manager who stopped in to get some paperwork to work on at home over the weekend.
It is very humiliating and humbling to be caught crying, no....sobbing. But, she was gracious and kind. Swooped in and hugged me. Asked me if I was okay. I replied that I was fine, apologized.
"Never apologize for being a human doing a human thing," she said. "C'mon, time for you to go home. GOD, look at your hands! Do I need to take you to the ER?"
I said no, explained that it was just a RA flare up and that I was waiting for a conference call and acting like a baby. Sorry. Sorry again.
She stared at me. "Is the conference call THAT important? Can it wait til next week?"
I thought for a moment and then shut down the computer.
We walked out of the office and she held my arm all the way to my car.
It was a very long weekend. I now have shots in both hands and they are slowly, slowly improving. I saw Martine on Monday and she didn't blow my hard ass cover. She is one of those people, I suppose, who understands about stubborn old goats.
Still. Argh. The pain. It keeps me up at night, and I lay still as a stone trying not to think of cartoon characters who have giant purple throbbing fingers after being hit by a hammer.
I have been humbled by having to ask my 14 year old daughter to assist me in getting my bra on. And bit my lip when she not only helped me with true gentleness, but leaned down to kiss my shoulder as she adjusted my strap just right.
"You are my tough cookie Mama," she told me.
Right. She didn't see me blubbering.
Bing has been waiting on me hand and foot, preparing grilled cheese sandwiches extraordinaire and not saying one word about sodium content as she heats up Campbell's tomato soup because she knows I love it and it is one of my comfort foods.
I am one lucky woman. But I am also feeling sorry for myself right now and beg your indulgence.
I am tiring of hunting and pecking here.
Here's to good books that lay down flat when you read them and icy glasses of chai tea on the side. With pink bendy straws because it is too hard to hold a glass.
And gentle helpers who don't blow your hard ass cover when they catch you crying like a bawl baby....