St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and the only green thing I drank was tea and the only party that went on was RA. The dreary clouds outside my window did little to boost my spirits. Old Man Winter had laid down roots and extended an invitation to the north wind, transforming our lush terrain into a frozen slushy wasteland. I am used to the odd snowfall in January and perhaps a few flakes in February, but March has always been about the deep plum crocuses and plush cherry blossoms paving the way for the arrival of new life and springtide. The few brave blossoms that attempted to make an appearance were swiftly strangled under the persistent chill that has taken hold.
Like our extended winter, RA hunkered down in my joints for a much longer season, preventing me from blooming and soaring beyond the fatigue and pain. It’s been difficult to keep up with my schedule in the coldness of a persistent twilight. The chill brings goosebumps to my skin while the dense rain-clouds ignite the inflammation seething beneath. My RA has been bouncing up and down like a rubber ball, but not like an innocent child’s toy, more like that ominous red ball sloshing its way down the giant staircase in George C. Scott’s The Changeling. I can hear the eerie music playing in the background, my flares rising with each new crescendo. Erratic, unsettled and unpredictable, RA can bounce high or low, in a straight line or lopsided, until it clips a rock on the ground and zigzags out of sync. I never know when I will hit that rock and where RA will bounce next.
Spring is only a few days away – already we have moved the clocks forward in anticipation of renewal, the birds have returned with their morning songs telling me to be patient, a change is coming. The days are longer, and a few resilient sprouts have pushed their way through the winter thaw, painting the barren landscape with fresh colors. These are the days I crave, where flowers open their petals beneath the warmth of the blushing sunrise, where my muscles will spring to life and my joints will be lighter. I look forward to the blossoming of a new vivacity within me, a flowering wellness that will drive RA into retreat for a few precious months. A brief reprieve beneath the crimson desert skies will help pull me out of the mire and I anticipate the upcoming change in season will lift the weight of inflammation, revitalize my energy and drive, and allow me to flourish with new life. The days have been challenging but I cling to the knowledge that life is never stagnant and, like the seasons, I also have the ability to transform.
Beyond the cold mountains, I have caught a glimpse of a burgeoning radiance, giving me the spark I need to begin shedding the husk of a weary spell with RA, and trigger a new spring in my step.
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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.