The summer arrived, bringing a dry heat, a welcome ally to my sore stiff joints. I woke in the mornings with minimal stiffness, enjoying the balmy days with walking and swimming. The old lady withdrew into hibernation, leaving me free of her swelling inflammation. The days stretched out into sultry evenings and my energy improved; I was engaged in living my life and it was easy to forget to take my medication every day. The hot dry weather forced the old lady back into the dark cave from which she’d emerged, and I forgot about her stifling presence for a time.
I woke one night, feverish and sore; the weather had changed and a misty dawn greeted me with dense gray clouds layering the sky, reminding me of our cold and damp spring. I was listless; my movements were heavy in light of the swelling crowding into my joints, a painful reminder that the old lady had not moved out, only offered a momentary reprieve. It was easy to forget my pills when I was feeling good, but I overlooked the fact that she was always lurking somewhere in my body; without the protection of my medication, there was no armour against the sudden shift in my disease. The weather, even in summer, is still unstable and one day of rain can arrive out of the blue, bringing the old crow back from her cave without warning.
When the sun returned, I made the effort to remember to take my medications and continue with my exercise routine. I forgot, for a moment, that RA is a slippery foe, and I need to be a constant warrior against the variable traits of my own disease.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.