There Will Be Days Like This

DSC_2458I heard the pitter-patter rhythm hitting the pavement, the swish of rubber tires through pooling water, the splatter of drops against the window under a sombre light. I could almost hear the hiss of moisture kissing the parched ground, dressing the leaves and flowers in shimmering beads of liquid. It’s the first time in almost three months the blue sky has been colored with the pewter of a moist winter sky. I’ve watched our greenery dwindle into brittle wasteland, feeding the fires as they sweep the waterless forests. I have been bound by smoky days and nights, highlighting the hidden fragility of my disease. Forecasters promised respite from the arid climate and we patiently waited beneath bloated clouds teasing our thirst. On the first morning of rain in over three months, I lay in bed listening to the forgotten music of raindrops, bogged down by swollen joints filled with precipitation.

It was a flare typical of a wicked damp winter, except it arrived in the midst of a summer drought. I had not had one in almost three months. The burn of RA had withered under a rare season of extreme heat until plump clouds arrived to deliver the chill of a coveted cloudburst and ease the burn of Mother Nature – in a cruel twist, the cool rain ignited my joints like kindling to a flame. But I haven’t battled this disease over the years without learning how to take advantage of the unexpected.

I have developed my own strategy for days like this – my own arthritis emergency kit, if you will, consisting of books, movies, hot water bottles, notebooks, fragrant teas, Epsom salts, aromatherapy and a snug blanket. When an arthritis flare brings my hectic world to a halt, it does not stop me from discovering the charming luxuries life has to offer. I accept it as the break my body is telling me I need. I get to pause and take pleasure in the small things I can’t always fit into my usual routine. I take this time to get lost in stories I will one day write, to escape into the opulent lives of characters on the screen, to savour the sweet flavour of my tea, to lounge in tepid waters laced with a heady scent while the rain freshens the steamy earth. It is part of the new rhythm of my life with RA. A flare day is my day to recharge, to remind myself that life is a tenuous dance and when the rhythm changes, I must be ready to follow its lead. Therein lies the blessings of the unexpected flare.

There will be days like this. There will be days when arthritis kicks me in my proverbial rear. I can’t avoid them, I can’t even predict when they will happen, but I can appreciate them for what they are – a reminder that even when the clouds come in, there are still ways of finding small pleasures in a life with arthritis.DSC_2463

“Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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  1. Carla Kienast on July 27, 2015 at 7:56 am

    It’s amazing that you can write so beautifully about something so ugly as a flare. Here’s hoping that it’s weather-related and passes as quickly as a summer shower.

    • J.G. Chayko on July 27, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      The tough part is that we badly need the rain. There has never been a drought like this in the Pacific Northwest. We are known for our rainy seasons. But like any sudden change in the weather, the RA flare is always waiting. It is calming a bit. Hoping, as always, that things are going well for you. Hugs.

  2. Wren on July 27, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Gorgeously written, J. And such a calm attitude about the nasty pain of a flare! I hadn’t really grokked that you’ve also been going through a terrible drought in the PNW; I mean, I knew, but I can hardly imagine that lush, green, moist and beautiful part of the world all dry and thirsty, like it is here. What a conundrum for you! No rain is terrible for everything, but rain is terrible for you! Sending you a warm hug and admiring your ability to find a balance. 🙂

    • J.G. Chayko on July 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Thank you Wren. Yes, it’s been crazy dry here this year. Water restrictions and the whole bit, something we are definitely not used to 😉 As you know, we have to take the good with the bad with RA. Hoping things are well with you and thanks for the warm hug 🙂

  3. Kev on August 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve heard about how the weather affects arthritis… May the sun shine brightly for you, soon. 🙂

    • J.G. Chayko on August 7, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Thanks Kev. It’s actually been a crazy warm year and extended summer for us. It’s that sudden change in pressure that ignites the flare, but I do my best to keep going. Hope all is well with you and yours.

      • Kev on August 8, 2015 at 2:51 am

        Things aren’t too bad… the general ups n downs at the mo… thanks J.G.

  4. Irma on August 5, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Oh, yes. A flare day is a day to indulge in the little things that mean so much in our lives. Permission to treat ourselves with special care, to recharge our batteries and give thanks for all that truly matters.

    • J.G. Chayko on August 7, 2015 at 10:52 am

      I used to get frustrated with flare days. I thought they slowed me down and interfered with the things I had to get done. But now, I understand they provide me a different way to remain productive. I hope flare days have kept their distance from you. Hugs.

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About me

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.