RA Daydreams: The Flare-Away Pill

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can feel like a nightmare, which sometimes leads me to daydream about things that would make this journey a little easier.

If I could have one wish granted in regards to rheumatoid arthritis, of course it would be for a cure. The thought of my own pain, swelling, and fatigue disappearing from my life, along with the fear of what the future with a degenerative disease holds for me, is a liberating and exalting notion. That’s all the more true when I think of the thousands of people in this online community who have shared bits of their RA experiences in the comments I’ve read. It is joyous to think of all of us being granted permanent reprieve from RA. However, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about a cure. Even though it’s been 15 years since my diagnosis, I’m in an ongoing battle with accepting the realities of this disease. So instead of thinking about that ultimate wish, sometimes I daydream about a stopgap measure that would provide temporary relief from RA. I call this medicine “the flare-away pill.”

Have you ever had that experience where it seems like your body chooses the least convenient time possible to flare on you? I’ve had this happen while I’ve been on trips (or right before I was supposed to take a trip, and ended up having to cancel due to a flare), before a speaking engagement, and even before a loved one’s wedding. There will be something that I’ve been gearing up for or looking forward to for weeks or months, and then the big day arrives and my body decides that’s the time to flare. Perhaps it’s due to the stress of planning, but whatever the reason, it’s incredibly frustrating when RA derails important plans.

When struck down by a flare while in another city or just before a big event, it would be amazing to take a flare-away pill. On the morning of a big day, if I woke up stiff and swollen, and it hurt just to get out of bed, I could take a flare-away pill, and all the inflammation and pain would melt away and allow me to go about my plans. If I was in the middle of a foreign city when all of a sudden my hip seized up and sent pain ricocheting through my body, I could just reach into my bag, pull out a flare-away pill, wait a couple of minutes after taking it (because of course my daydream pharmaceutical is extremely fast-acting), and then continue my sightseeing, not throwing off the itinerary at all.

Unlike prednisone, which does cause my inflammation to decrease, the flare-away pill would be free of side effects. It wouldn’t just diminish the symptoms, it would make them disappear. Therefore the flare-away pill would be amazing to take the morning of a big interview, a presentation at work, or any high stakes performance where it would be great not to feel the side effects of steroids or painkillers. With the flare-away pill, I wouldn’t have to perform in spite of my fatigue and pain, I could do it without them. Even if I knew I’d still have to deal with the flare, being able to delay it until the weekend arrived would be such a gift. The pain and fatigue of RA are hard enough to deal with, but when taking into account the disease’s unpredictable nature, it can be downright infuriating. It would be so much easier to live with this condition if at least one aspect of it could be controlled.

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