Saturday, December 4, 2010

1st Anniversary

It was a year ago this week that my world changed.

I was planning a Christmas party for the coming weekend and had taken the week off work. Everything was fine, until my hands got sore, and the aching in my body wouldn't go away, even though I hadn't gone to the gym in a few days. I had no clue what was going on, but wasn't that worried. Just vaguely thought I must be coming down with something.

Vaguely because I was too busy getting ready for my party! Christmas cookie party! Friends! Fun! Christmas music! Glowing candles! The smells of clementines and coffee and cinnamon and yummy cookies! Who had time to worry about getting sick???

Besides, I hardly ever got sick. I seriously have had maybe 4 colds in the last 10 years. No kidding! The last real illness was the flu and that was some 13 years ago. I have a very healthy immune system.

Little did I know that that healthy, healthy immune system was about to run rampant and turn on me.

The party was Sunday afternoon. I was so thankful toward the end, when just my sisters and their families remained, that my youngest niece played helper and cleaned up. I was wiped and sore. But happy. Still not thinking.

The next morning, I couldn't move when I woke up. I mean, literally couldn't move.

It had been a week since the first symptoms of something wrong had begun to set in.

I finally managed to get out of bed and called my doctor to make an appointment. The next day was even worse. I wouldn't say I was paralyzed in the medical sense of the word (obviously not!), but close: so stiff and sore I can't even begin to describe it. The thought of experiencing that again scares me, especially since now I've had pain with the symptoms and know it would be much worse. I called the doctor's office in a panic at 6 in the morning, then drove there without an appointment, even though I was scheduled to go in the next day.

Welcome to the world of rheumatoid arthritis, you!

I had no clue what I was in for.

The drugs are a miracle. I thank god, the stars, the world, the ground I walk on, and scientists, most of all scientists, every day for the drugs. Without them I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. I don't exaggerate. I can't imagine how people with RA years ago survived without them.

It's been a tough year because of RA and for other reasons, but I surprise myself with my resilience, strength and character. I honestly didn't know I had it in me!

These past few weeks have been particularly tough: on top of everything else, I've developed frozen shoulder in my left shoulder. Who knows why? For the enjoyment of the universe? Because life isn't fair? Because somebody had to? Just cause? Really doesn't matter. It just is, like so much else in life. So, hard as it is, and freakin' painful as it was (and it was!!!! – but luckily the pain is dying down), I keep going.

It isn't courage. I don't really know why people say that. Courage is jumping into a lake to save someone when you have the choice not to. What is my choice? To lie in bed all day and moan? Not really. I'm not that badly off. Not compared to some people. So I would never say it's courage. Character, yes. Fortitude, sure, OK. You just keep going. One step after the other, just the way you always have. Sure, it's a little more challenging, and, sure, I feel a little more cranky at times, and have way less patience with those who are self-indulgent. So you have a cold and your nose is dripping? Get a Kleenex! I am also, paradoxically, more patient and understanding in many ways.

Do I wish I was here? No.


And once again, no.

But I am. And so I go on. As do we all.

Happy Anniversary to me.


  1. While you were freezing up, I was swelling and on fire. December 30th was the day I went to the doctor, but fought the dx for five more months.

    Some anniversaries are simply reminders.

  2. Ho-ho-ho. Happy anniversary to both of us then, Laurie! :/
    I've felt really crappy (emotionally) about it all these last few weeks. I guess the fact it's been a whole year puts it into's here to stay.
    You're so right, we just get on with it because there is no choice.
    And on the bright side, at least this year we know what's what, and we can enjoy Christmas without (hopefully) any nasty surprises. Last year Christmas was horrible for me, as I'm sure it was for you. Throw another party, get the Christmas music on and enjoy the season.
    Hugs to you xx

  3. I'm not sure you should have called the blog Frozen Woman. But I do hope the shoulder gets back being a shoulder with motion. I have had RA 28 years and still work but it is getting tougher. Great that you are on the good drugs - probably you don't have much joint damage (I hope). It's that early damage that makes life so hard years after the diagnosis.

    My neck is going astray - it's atlanto axial subluxation. I hope you have cookies this year too

  4. Not a celebratory anniversary, by any means. But, you've made it a whole year, the meds work, and so you go on. Love that line.

    May we continue to go on until they find a cure. Happy anniversary.

  5. From reading your posts I didn't realize you were only one year into this. You handle yourself with such grace.

    Funny how we will always remember our RA anniversary. January marks seven years for me and I can still remember the first days like it was yesterday. But, we do learn how absolutely strong we can be and that is amazing. Happy Anniversary. I hope the shoulder lets up soon. That shoulder pain can be the worst pain RA gives.

  6. I guess I have completely shut when I was diagnosed out. Not that I could push it in the closet and forget about it, I just remember it being sometime in the "spring".
    You have done very well for your first year, I hope you find relief for your shoulder soon.

  7. Way to make it year!! I'm almost there myself

  8. I refuse to wish you a happy anniversary on this one :) I'll just wish you a better Christmas than last year :) And, a warming up of that shoulder!

    I'm with Tharr, not sure of the actual date, just that it was in the winter, post Christmas when I started noticing my symptoms. Diagnosis was sometime in the fall. Course that was nearly 10 years ago, and lord knows, my memory is not THAT good!

  9. Thank you all so much for you comments; sorry it has taken so long to respond.

    On the one hand, I've been very busy, on the other, it's been cold and I've been playing mole (do moles hibernate?), and on the other...wait a minute!! I've run out of hands!!! In the other "instance," then, I've just been shutting down in some ways and just doing what I need to.

    But your thoughts are always greatly appreciated, and even if I don't respond immediately, I am, as the great Oz was, behind the scenes, observing.

    Annette, you made me laugh out loud with your comment. So prescient! So true! Might have made a mistake with that, I admit, but what can I do now? However, as my next post will show, there might also be hope on the horizon!

    And once again, your thoughts and hopes and just the time you take to read and then to comment on top of that means more than I can ever say.

    :) L

    P.S. We finally have snow in Toronto, and while that has made many people unhappy, it's definitely put a smile on my face!!