Surviving the Pineapple Express

DSC_1543 (2)My early warning rheumatoid weather system alerted me to something on the horizon. The Pineapple Express was on its way. This expression is deceptive in its meaning – when I first heard the term “pineapple express”, I envisioned white sand beaches under bright sapphire skies, palm trees swaying in gentle breezes and tropical flowers basking under the warmth of the sun. Imagine my displeasure when I found out it was a weather phenomenon that delivered torrents of rain. It arrived swiftly, battering the meek west coast with a vengeance. The temperature shifted from cold and dry to mild and wet – “wet” seems like a puny word – it was more like soaked, drenched, and sopping. Ditches and drains overflowed, creating massive puddles and little rivulets over the roadways. The sudden change in pressure caused the dikes in my joints to burst, allowing the pooling inflammation to puff up my fingers, elbows, wrists and knees like sandbags swelling against the deluge along the river banks. It was time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm of arthritis – but unfortunately, instead of taking cover, I had to face the storm it all its saturated frenzy.

Timing is everything – in the midst of this tropical deluge, I had the vexing task of driving to an appointment. In mild weather, my destination would take 40 minutes – during the Pineapple Express, it became an agonising 90 minute journey. Driving with arthritis at the best of times is challenging enough; driving in the midst of a rain-soaked flare was downright harrowing. The rain teemed from gloomy low-hanging clouds, snuffing out the usual glow of daylight. Roads turned into streams, tires from other vehicles hurled water over my windshield with loud splats, impatient drivers zoomed past in the left-hand lane. My muscles tensed around my swollen joints at the thought of encountering those same foolish drivers a couple of miles down the road flipped upside down in a roadside ditch. A creeping stiffness seized my joints, demanding movement to free them from their restricted prison. I clung to the steering wheel like it was a life raft, frozen in position; my right knee and foot launched their complaint at remaining still for so long. I was an arthritic statue, destined to be immobile for another thirty minutes. The drive was unbearably long and arduous due to the harsh weather. I drove cautiously, my senses finely tuned to other drivers on the road and large puddles pooling in the potholes. I listened to upbeat music to take my mind off the mounting discomfort of my sore swollen joints.

I made it to my destination and home again. I soaked in a hot bath to shatter the stiffness that draped over my body; I did some gentle stretching, listening to the music of tiny cracks as fluidity returned to my limbs; I soothed my puffy joints with ice, watching them shrink back to an acceptable size. That evening, I visited with friends at a Thai restaurant where vibrant drinks in elegant glasses glowed beneath the restaurant lights. I took a sip from a fruity cocktail, delighting in the warmth that percolated through my veins, carrying me away to tropical lands and white sand beaches swept with the tepid waves of an azure sea. Now that’s my kind of pineapple express. Cheers.


No Comments

  1. Wren on January 25, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Wonderful, descriptive writing!

    While I long for the kind of rain you just described so well, I’ll be the first one to admit that I totally understand how you feel about driving in it, particularly with flaring RA. I’ve done it so many times, driving in rain, snow, even ice with a severe flare going in my hand or clutch foot, or both, along with the overall body ache and fatigue. It’s just miserable.

    So glad you made it home safely and were able to ease away some of the pain. And glad, too, that you got together later with friends for good food and that lovely, evocative tropical drink.

    Be well, friend. Sending a hug. 🙂

    • J.G. Chayko on January 26, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Thanks Wren 🙂 As long as you don’t have to drive in it, I’d be happy to send that cool rain your way to douse your rheuma-dragon. Hope you are staying well. Cheers.

  2. Irma on January 26, 2015 at 7:25 am

    The dikes in your joints. That is so visual anyone can see it and understand it. I understand it all too well. During my worst years I had to spend 3 hours in the car toting my child to school. There and back twice a day. After an hour and a half in the same cramped position, I needed a crane waiting for me in my driveway to get me out of the car. Thankfully, those days have vaporized away and I hope the pineapple express you encounter in future will be of the most pleasant kind.

    • J.G. Chayko on January 26, 2015 at 8:13 am

      The rain has let up now, but for two days it was quite a downpour. We’re used to rain in our area, but usually we don’t have quite so much at one time. And yes, after that first 90 minute drive, I would have loved a crane to help lift my stiff body out of the care. What a fabulous image :). Hope all is well with you.

  3. pamcheslatta on January 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Excellent pineapple juice, as always, Julia. Love your juicy writing.

    • J.G. Chayko on January 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks Pam. Hope things are going well with you.

  4. mysticallunarose on January 27, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Very descriptive I love it, well done you took me there. I can taste and feel the rain, as well as the pain and then that wonderful tropical cocktail took it all away. I totatly understand how you feel I live in the Pacific Northwest 2 hours south of Seattle so I know this ‘Pinapple Express’ you speak of and the pain it can cause. Thank You for sharing I am glad you made it thru. :~)

    • J.G. Chayko on January 27, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you for your lovely words. I know the area you live in, I have visited Seattle and the outlying areas a lot over the years. Lush, green and wet 🙂 Here’s hoping the rain doesn’t wreak too much havoc on your joints. Stay well. Cheers.

  5. Lynne on January 29, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Ahhh~ the “cracks!” Great writing; I could “feel” your stiffness and pain. Hope that you’re feeling better today in the sunshine!

    • J.G. Chayko on January 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks Lynne, the sun certainly helps dry out my water-logged joints :). Hope all is well with you.

  6. lassfromlancashire on February 8, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Your account of your journey sounds horrendous. Only one thing occurs to me: was your appointment really necessary? Would it have been better to cancel, as you might have done for some other illness or condition, flu, say or a broken leg? Obviously I don’t know all your circumstances, but I do feel that sometimes people get fixated on cars and driving. There are other ways to get around after all.

    • J.G. Chayko on February 8, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      LOL, yes, I probably could have put it off… however, the weather in Vancouver often changes every ten minutes, so when I started out on my journey, it didn’t seem as bad. Twenty minutes later is when the downpour came and by then, I was too stubborn to turn around. I drive maybe once a month, my choice of transportation is always the bus or walking, but this particular area does not have the best bus service, so I opted for 90 minutes rather than three hours. Thanks for stopping by and hope everything is well with you. Cheers.

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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.