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Goodbye (and Good Riddance!) 2018: Part 2

Part 2 of “Goodbye (and Good Riddance!) 2018

After suffering from painful whiplash from a car accident, an excruciating throat infection, and bizarre back spasms that landed me in the ER–I hoped that this string of seemingly bad health luck in 2018 had reached its end. What were the chances of anything more weird and random happening after all of that stuff? Pretty good, actually.

The Ladder

One piece of advice I have for people in 2019: Do not climb ladders. Or, at least don’t try to climb down them facing the wrong way. I learned this little lesson the hard way last March when I fell off a very tall ladder (onto a hard wooden floor) and wound up spraining my (bad) ankle, bruising my tailbone badly, and basically beating up my whole body. Fortunately, I did not break anything, which was very lucky. I realize this experience could also possibly fall into the category of “Thoughtless Idiotic Decisions,” like getting in an Uber during a blizzard–but it still didn’t seem quite fair.

So off to the doctor I went again, with more X-rays and physical exams, and concerned looks by medical providers that seemed to say, “What’s wrong with you, you sickly klutz?” Spared again by anything too serious, my ankle was not broken but badly sprained. My tailbone was also not fractured, even though I couldn’t lie on my back for quite a while. And for the first time in my life, I was forced to rely on a pair of crutches in order to walk. This proved difficult and clumsy especially since I have an RA-damaged wrist. So I kind of dragged my foot around the best I could, which wasn’t very well.


The Elbow

Similar to The Ladder Incident, I made a wrong and klutzy move one night and tripped on a sidewalk, crashing to the ground and slamming my right elbow into the cement. A giant egg-lump and some of the worst bruising I’ve ever seen (wow, the greens, blues, and yellows!) immediately began to form on my poor arm. After yet another trip to urgent care, luckily nothing was broken. I was just left with a lot of pain and temporary elbow disability.

Still stupid.

The Stairs

After my ladder injuries had healed, I thought I was finally done with all of this bad luck. Wrong! In early summer I went to visit my friend who lives in a 100+ year-old-house in Minneapolis. As I walked down the old wooden stairs that evening, my bare foot slipped, sending my body crashing down onto the sharp edge of one of the steps. Pain seared throughout my body as I sat on the little landing I had fallen onto, to catch my breath. It felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me.

Wincing and whimpering, I was afraid to move, so I sat there a while wondering if this time I had done anything serious to my body. The next day a giant ugly bruise had formed on my back, on the spot where I had squarely fallen on the ridge of one of those wooden steps. So, once again I went to urgent care to have my latest injury checked out. And miraculously, again, nothing was broken or fractured. Whew! I was just in a lot of extra pain for a while.

Extra stupid?

The Jaw

Did you know that it’s possible to sprain your jaw? I wasn’t aware of this until it happened to me in late November. I remember one day eating a little raspberry dessert bar that had small crunchy bits on the top of it. I bit down on the bar and heard a weird crunching sound and immediately thought, “Oh no, did I crack a tooth?” Not long after this, I had major pain stabbing me in my lower left jaw. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t open my mouth fully. Eating, chewing, talking, and even just turning my head sent waves of pain shooting into my jaw and traveling up to my left ear and encompassing my entire head. What on earth is THIS now? Did I break my tooth?

After a trip to my dentist and a thorough exam of my tooth with X-rays, I luckily did not break my tooth. My dentist, as well as my primary care doctor, referred me to a TMJ/orofacial pain clinic at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. After physical exams of my jaw, bite, and teeth, and an MRI scan, it was determined that I had sprained my jaw probably by biting down on something the wrong way–like that raspberry bar.

The month of December became consumed with this debilitating jaw and head pain as well as numerous medical appointments for it: primary care doctor, rheumatologist, TMJ clinic, MRI scan, physical therapy, and my pain management clinic. And right now, as I write this, my jaw still hurts.

So how’s 2019 going so far, you might ask? Well…maybe you shouldn’t ask because my sick-prone body has already been battling against significant health issues, on top of the RA, since the very first of the new year. New Year’s Eve I was struck with severe and almost non-stop vomiting which resulted in a trip to the ER. The verdict? A virus–a stomach flu of sorts.

And, thanks to my immune-suppressed body, this stomach flu lasted a week and a half. I wound up losing 9-10 lbs during that time because I couldn’t stand to eat anything other than a few Saltine crackers and white toast. My nausea was intense and constant. I remember feeling anxious as I began to wonder, Will this ever go away? Will I ever be able to eat again? What a nasty, nasty sickness. Finally, though, I did get better.

An extra, negative “side effect” of being ill so much is that I wasn’t able to take my methotrexate and Simponi shots while sick or on antibiotics. I missed several injections because of this, which did not help my RA. How frustrating! But right now, I’m relieved to say that I’m finally back on track with my RA medications and I have not been sick for several weeks! Well, other than the jaw pain that’s hanging around and being a big nuisance. It’s starting to get better, though, I’m very happy to notice.

As we move further into the new year, despite all of the health struggles I’ve had last year and the beginning of this year, I am hopeful that 2019 will be much better than 2018–physically, emotionally, and mentally. I feel so ready to get healthier and to make positive steps to move forward in my life without sickness getting in the way and dragging me down.

Happy 2019, everyone! I hope and pray it will be a good year. For all of us.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • BeccaFloyd
    2 months ago

    Thank you for writing this! I can completely relate. As a fellow “klutz”, it seems every month brings a new injury or illness to contend with, in addition to the ever-present RA. Three weeks ago, I burned the inside of my right elbow (?!) fairly badly, I’ve been treating it with prescription topical burn cream and it has yet to completely heal. About a week later I cut my right hand washing a chefs knife, and a couple days ago burnt my left hand slightly when one of the brussel sprouts I was searing slipped from my hand into the hot oil with a splash! All of those injuries pale in comparison to when I, like you, tripped while walking and rolled my ankle, falling to the ground in a heap, and badly spraining it. I’ve never broken anything but my nose, but I feel that a sprain must be close to the pain of a break, if the pain I experienced was any indication. Even less encouraging is the knowledge that due to my RA, any injuries I acquire often lead to many years of continued complications, even after the original “healing” is complete. All this before I even mention the colds and bugs I seem to acquire so easily! The beginning of February brought with it a particularly nasty head cold, which lasted three weeks and caused me to have to delay my normal Humira injection by a full two weeks, thus increasing my RA symptoms until my delayed injection could take hold. A choice between prolonging or intensifying an illness, or ratcheting up RA pain and other symptoms, is really no choice at all! Having been diagnosed with RA at four years old may have been both a blessing and a curse, as I have had to live my entire life with RA pain, swelling, treatments and the rest, yet I don’t know anything different, so I have nothing “better” to compare it to. It just is. I must say, I am thrilled that the first day of spring is finally upon us! Where I live, we hadn’t seen 60 degrees F in 147(!) days, until yesterday. The feeling of the sun on my face and sore and swollen joints brings the promise of better RA days ahead! I hope the Spring Equinox and tonight’s “Super Worm Equinox Moon” bring you the hope and promise of better RA days ahead, as well. At least until we can find the elusive flattering “bubble suits” that will keep us safe and injury free!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    2 months ago

    I hope 2019 will be better for you as well Angela. You deserve it. Oh and think about doing the I am afraid of heights thing. It has keep me away form ladders for years. 🙂

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