Masquerade Ball

A cold, RA and the flu walk into a bar. The cold is usually easy to recognize, modest in his congestion and stuffy sinuses. He saunters by, unnoticed – he’s common. RA and the flu stand side by side; like Siamese twins, they are not easily separated. They both offer extreme exhaustion, fever, body aches and joint pains. They both give the impression of feeling like a car has slammed into your body, parading their symptoms in a similar way when they are first introduced. It can be difficult to distinguish one from the other; but don’t be fooled by RA’s masquerade.

It’s flu and cold season, and sometimes, when I am unwell for several days, I can’t figure out if my body is fighting a virus or the effects of an RA flare. RA likes to mimic the symptoms of flu, making it difficult to distinguish which foe your body is fighting. RA is a masked boarder, hiding in the body; she does not want to be discovered, because once she is, she runs the risk of being opposed and her plans defeated. She likes to slink through the body, elusive in her intrusion, fooling the innocent into thinking she’s a simple bug that will pass, all the while labouring on with her destruction.

RA first appears in the body like a flu; it’s important to pay attention to the little details. Is there prolonged stiffness and swelling of the joints? Does it seem different from flus you’ve battled in the past? Does the exhaustion seem excessive? Is it lasting longer than ten days? Does it disappear only to recur at another time? Even after a few years of living with RA, there are some days I can’t figure out what I’m up against. Do I feel unwell because it’s a flu? Or am I dancing with old lady RA at her private masquerade ball?

No Comments

  1. Wren on February 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Aw, J. That must feel just awful. And frustrating, not being sure which is which. I complain a lot, but I’m really very lucky, I think. Other than joint pain and swelling, the only symptom of RA I’ve ever had is fatigue, and it’s usually mild. I think you’re pretty tough, just pushing on through when you feel that bad.

    I hope as the week begins you’re feeling better. Sending a hug your way. 😉

    • J.G. Chayko on February 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks Wren. It’s been a tough week, feeling as though I might be fighting off a virus, but unsure as to what I was fighting. A recent visit with my rheumy uncovered a flare of my disease, and I am feeling better in the last day or two. Thanks for your positive energy, always appreciated. 🙂

  2. Phil on February 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I work at a college and all of the sick students coming to class does make me nervous at times, but it makes me wash my hands a lot and that should be good for something. The wrists and hands have been acting up something fierce lately and I feel for you. I hope things ease up a bit soon, but with this disease you can never tell. We went out to eat tonight with some friends that we had not seen in a while and it really brightened up the week regardless of our collective aches and pains. Keep positive and stay near to good friends.
    Phil – Syracuse

    • J.G. Chayko on February 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks Phil, it certainly is a crafty and unpredictable disease. I make the best of it 🙂 Stay well.

  3. Irma on February 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    It’s so true that at first it’s hard to tell if it’s a flare or a flu. You feel equally bad at first, and then equally glad when they both go away. And hopefully, stay away. Hope you’re feeling much better.

    • J.G. Chayko on February 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      This was a bit of a mystery; everyone I knew had caught some bug, but as it turned out, it was old lady RA up to her usual tricks.

  4. Kev on February 21, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Stay warm J.G. 🙂

  5. bennuttallsmith2013 on February 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m an octogenarian blessed, on the most part, with good health and forever thankful.
    However, I’ve had a fair share of medical ups and downs so I can truly appreciate what you must go through. The blessing you impart to others is sharing yourself as you do. Thank you.

    • J.G. Chayko on February 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. I post once a week, writing about what I call the “ridiculous” in my disease, hoping to inspire others with courage, hope and the ability to carry on and have a life even in the face of our disease. Looking forward to reading future posts on your blog. Best, J.G.

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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.