You might wake up well rested, feeling pretty good. Out of bed. Start moving. Your middle toe starts hurting. A piercing pain shoots through the bottom of a foot. Just keeps going until every joint in your body in inflamed and in pain.
All had been well this last week. Lots done. Exercise class included. Pain level at a simmer. No need for the narcotics. Pleasant.
Then blindsided! Unpredictable! Discouraging!
Now, it is just hard to exist. Fatigue has joined the rest. Fatigue feels like an overwhelming exhaustion that makes thinking or doing hard to do. Just simply surviving is hard to do. Each of those joints supporting the 28 bones in each foot cry out for attention. Their chorus is joined by the joints supporting the 27 bones in each hand. Then there are the ankles, the wrists, the shoulders, elbows, and the joints of the chest bones.
To stop is to adapt. There is no choice, not really. Time for a rest day, a veg out day, time out. Time to take those serious pain meds, a hot shower, favorite foods. A good day to watch movies, read a book, a chill day. Your body demands it only because it needs it. Time to slow down.
This is part of the RA lifestyle. Adapting means accepting the days when you need a chill day. That is a hard adaptation to make. But, It is part of your new life with RA. Surviving is understanding that pain needs to be managed. It means that you need to plan the best pain management program to prevent as much as possible a total meltdown.
Managing a flare also means going with the flow of the situation. Rest in a flare. It is time to take care of yourself. It is also a time to understand that life will be better.
The rheumatologist may need to tweak your meds, which don’t work forever. You may need to tweak your lifestyle. More planned rest. Less exhaustion. Massage. Support groups to learn about coping. Physical therapy. Chair yoga. More entertainment. Movement.
Team leader back in the saddle. Oh, darn. Adapt and survive is working.