RA Daydreams: The Distance Shrinker

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.

Disease is nothing if not humility-inducing.

Disease brings our bodies’ vulnerabilities and limitations to the forefront. When living with a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD), one’s physical limitations become readily apparent.

There are simple tasks that become difficult or nearly impossible when I’m in a flare. Lifting a gallon of milk, carrying my purse, pushing a loaded grocery cart, and holding my child can all become Herculean tasks when I’m in a lot of pain.

In addition to the increased weight everything seems to have when my body hurts, distances seem to stretch like silly putty in a child’s hands. When each step is painful, a needed item being a distance of 100 steps can feel very far away indeed.

Traversing distances easier

Wouldn’t it be nice if during flares we could have tiny, lightweight “distance shrinkers” that would help us traverse distances much easier? For instance, during a recent flare, I was lying in bed on my heated mattress pad, hoping my muscle relaxer would kick in. When I realized the flexeril was not going to be enough, I decided to take a tramadol. Even though the tramadol bottle was on the nightstand, rolling over on my inflamed hip and shuffling toward the nightstand was agonizing. With my distance shrinker, I could point it at the space between the nightstand and me, and instantly the pill bottle would be within my arm’s reach.

Similarly, when needing to go to the bathroom or get a glass of water from the kitchen, rather than hobble across the room or the house, I could point my distance shrinker and take a couple of labored steps instead of dozens.

I would also use my distance shrinker to temporarily eliminate the triangular space between my bed, my dresser, and my closet. This would allow me to remain seated on my bed while getting dressed in the morning, no longer groaning at having to stand back and walk to get my shoes after the work of retrieving my socks from the drawer.

The distance shrinker for the world

The distance shrinker would be even handier when venturing out into the world. Once I got in my car, rather than suffer the 10-15 minute drive to work with my right hip, knee, and ankle protesting at the pressure of operating the gas and brake pedals, I could shrink the distance between my home and office and be there in 60 seconds.  After parking the car, I could once again eliminate most of the walk from my parking spot to the building’s entrance. Upon reaching the staircase, I could shrink the distance of each step so that instead of lifting my foot twelve inches I could barely raise it off the ground.

Yes, having a distance shrinker would make flares more tolerable. However, since this dream technology is just that, I’ll instead have to remember to (gently) pat myself on the back for each trip to the kitchen I achieve, each morning routine I complete, and each journey to work I make in the face of this challenging disease.

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