I woke in the morning, thick with sleep – beyond my initial drowsiness, a dense stiffness lay siege over my tender joints. I turned my head, cringing at the rigid sensation streaming through the muscles in my neck. I sat up, or thought I did – I only imagined lifting my body from the bed, and I was still lying there wrapped in a strange viscosity. The feeling was unsettling. It reminded me of the time I was hit by a car – allow me to amend that, “hit” is such a weak word – “walloped” was more like it.
It happened a few years ago on a splendid summer morning; I went for a jog around the local park, returned home and got ready for work. I strolled along the sidewalk, enjoying the beauty of the day, stepped off a curb and….wham! The next thing I knew, I was sprawled out on the ground with no idea how I got there; I was treated to a ride in an ambulance, taken to hospital and lucky to leave with only soft tissue injuries. I was discharged the same day, sent home with some painkillers and an appointment to begin physiotherapy the following week. Overnight, the shock against my body diminished, and I woke up the next morning feeling like Wile E. Coyote flattened under a boulder. I never forgot that feeling; I never thought I’d experience it again until old lady RA arrived to resuscitate the event.
I dragged myself from bed, and proceeded to hobble around my apartment hoping to infuse some fluidity into my comatose joints flattened in the wake of the old lady’s road rage. I wished I could blow into my thumb and inflate them with life – but not being a cartoon, that was impossible. I had to find another way to squeeze myself out from under the massive boulder of an arthritis flare. It was destined to be a rough day, but I made my best effort – a warm bath, some gentle yoga, and a short walk – anything to break out of the rigour of my trampled body. The day wore on and, piece by piece, I managed to peel myself off the pavement.
Some mornings with arthritis can make you feel like a cartoon character trampled on the road of life – but with a little patience and some tender care, we can find a way to pick ourselves up and continue on…just keep an eye out for those boulders.
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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.
Wow–you’re lucky you lived through being “walloped” by that car! It makes a terrific comparison to morning stiffness, though. Really visual and empathy-provoking.
Nice post, JG. I hope your mornings have been less traumatic since you wrote about this one. 😉
Thank you Wren, I’ve had some improvement since this dreadful morning, but it’s amazing how quickly things can change. Hope you are keeping well. 🙂
You write such lovely posts (even if they are about getting flattened by a car and having severe flares)! Hope you’re feeling better.
Thanks Carla, I am “peeling” myself off the pavement of this flare and feeling better. Here’s hoping you are keeping well and active 🙂
I know the feeling, you just keep moving! Check out my ” Commiserating” Blog on My life with CPPD
Thank you – I will check out your blog 🙂 Stay well.
Hi Julia, glad you are feeling better. Hey, check out the new film that features rheumatoid arthritis–Pictures and Words starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. Some local RA talent were advisors on the film.
Hi Pam, I’ve heard a lot about that movie. Will have to find some time to get away from desk and see it 🙂 Hope you are doing well.
You couldn’t have described a flare more perfectly. (Although there are probably no gradations to an absolute like “perfect”!) I always say I feel like I got run over by a train, though I never actually have been, thankfully. I hope your flare is subsiding and that the old lady takes a hike, a long one. I always look forward to afternoons and evenings as the symptoms subside as the day wears on.
Hi Irma, you are so right. Often when I wake up feeling like that, I look forward to the improvement as the day wears on, no matter how small. The weather is a bit wacky these days, wreaking havoc with my joints, but I am better than the morning of this flare. Hope you are doing well, as always. Cheers.
It’s true as your describe the “weirdness” of an arthritis flare and morning wake up! From weather changes, to viruses, to too busy days- these events affect the hyper “sensitive” body. The fatigue that often accompanies a flare can be so exhausting and the “good” days, fleeting. We march on, right? Managing arthritis (for me, anyways) means taking medication, vitamins, practicing good health through diet and strengthening exercises.
Thank you for your posts. They enlighten as it’s really difficult to explain symptoms to another- even a physician. I think that you have to be in the club!
Hi Grace, yes I agree…I think if you aren’t “in the club”, you really have no idea how it feels to experience the flares and fluctuating symptoms. And sometimes, there are no words that can get the point across, but you’re right – we just march on. I hope you are keeping well. Cheers.