The summer flew by with spectacularly clear days, with little to no humidity. Skies were mottled with wispy clouds, and the ginger glow of scarlet sunsets proclaimed another unblemished day with light breezes, a perfect season of warmth when a rare vitality masked the inflammation of RA. One temperate day I found myself in the pool gently treading water before doing laps. I had gone for a walk earlier in the morning, did some work for a few hours, and still had enough energy for a late afternoon swim. It was one of those rare days where there was no hint of the disease that marked me – minimal stiffness, no swelling, no pain to remind me of the old lady in my bones. I took advantage of the energy I had been granted. And for a while, I forgot…
It was not impossible, on those singular days of nothingness, that I could do two types of exercise in one day – a notable achievement for those marked by arthritis. My former physical proficiency had vanished when the fatigue and discomfort of RA arrived. My muscles wilted under the veil of disease and the imprint of them beneath my skin fueled my determination to keep moving not just for the maintenance of my body, but also for the wellbeing of my spirit. I learned to make adjustments to my usual workouts, discovering alternative methods that would reduce pressure on my battered joints. The pain and inflammation eventually merged into a new state of normal, and I adjusted…and in the midst of my journey, I stumbled upon rare pockets of forgetfulness – minutes, hours, sometimes even a day when I forgot I had RA.
It wasn’t long before I was delivered that indelicate slap on the wrist, reminding me that I am still at the mercy of RA. The return of the relentless click of my shoulder while swimming; the stab of pain in my wrist when lifting a mug of tea; that petulant twinge in my knee when walking; the reappearance of my swollen fingers first thing in the morning. But even these reminders are susceptible to exquisite moments of forgetfulness – my fingers are unnoticeable when I am lost in the world of a book; my clicking shoulder drowned out in the splash of a morning swim; that petulant twinge lost in the iridescent glow of twilight when climbing the sand dunes in the Maritimes.
I am indebted to those pockets of forgetfulness. They are the moments that release me from the constancy of my condition. When the reminders return, which they inevitably do, I am not disappointed – for they inspire me to breathe in the life of those rare days making my moments of forgetfulness the most memorable.
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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.
Being new to this disease, it simply amazes me how a mere 24 hours (sometimes less) can be the difference between us kicking RA’s butt, or RA kicking our butt. I’m so glad you had some moments where it seemed to be the latter, and that your moments of forgetfulness was a good thing 🙂
I hope you enjoy more of those precious moments, where you can simply live your life in the absence of symptoms.
Thank you. There are rare days where the symptoms are minimal, but I find I can sometimes escape my disease when I am wrapped up in a project or my attention is focused completely on something else. Distraction can be powerful. Wishing you well 🙂 Cheers
I hope, that like you, I will some day have pockets of forgetfulness where I can live as if my body can do more and without the consequence of immediate of prolonged pain to remind me that I am no longer like I once was.
I hope your pockets of forgetfulness continue to lengthen
They are rare, but no matter their length, they are precious. I hope you will find them too…wishing you well. Best, J.G.
On those rare days when I do feel at my bottom, I still try go get thru as much as I can because I do find that when I get out in the world and see clients, that time spent with them has no pain or fatigue. It’s always been what I’m most curious about. When I get there, I go in and I am pain free.
Alas, there are 1 or 2 days a year where I can’t even fake it. I have to crawl under the covers and sleep the day away. Then I wake the next day and I’m on my way.