It’s halfway through the month of May and the sun has made a reappearance after a few days of unsettled overcast weather. I get out of bed feeling the heat in my swollen fingers and shake the morning stiffness from my knees. It’s the one of the few mornings I have noticed the presence of my arthritis, although that’s not to say it hasn’t been there – lately it’s just been white noise in the background, like unbroken waves on the beach.
One year ago, we were thrust into a new way of living. We created our own insular worlds, doing our best to stay safe and healthy, while trying to sustain the essentials of a normal life. It’s been a year of seesawing restrictions, cases rising and falling, openings and closings, working at home, working at the office, planning grocery shopping trips, and doing what we could to nurture our mental and physical health.
The worry of getting sick beyond RA eclipsed my little struggles with joint pain. I wasn’t as worried about the day-to-day activity of my disease as I was on staying well so I focused on the little whirlpool of my life, keeping up with work, writing deadlines, taking time for myself and keeping in touch with family and friends. I found fulfillment in my creative life, took daily walks, went on bike rides, read books, learned new recipes, and concentrated on the little preoccupations of domestic life. RA was swept away in the surge of navigating life in a pandemic world for a little while.
A year later, the world is quivering on the verge of change and just like living with a chronic condition I am trying to endure the fluctuating vibrations of this very capricious time. The ocean tidepools are teeming with new life, ready to spill over the edges of an untamed spring into what we hope will be a placid summer, and as our world becomes less uncertain, the white noise around us will emerge into something a little more tangible.
RA is just a part of that white noise. It will rise and fall in frequency. Sometimes I will notice it, and sometimes it will simply be absorbed into the bigger picture – the key is to figure out how to keep there.
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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.