Plagued by Inflammation

Last updated: January 2024

In recent months, I’ve been struggling with an inflammation of the eyelids called blepharitis. Warning: this is gross!

Blepharitis: inflammation of the eyelids

I wake up with yellow crusties on my eyelids and a sticky residue. It’s not too different from pink eye, but less severe and harder to treat. Other than regularly washing the eyelids with warm water and gentle soap, there’s not much that can be done to treat this kind of inflammation.

However, it was a funny coincidence (or not) that my blepharitis worsened when I was on a lower dosage of methotrexate and seemed to lessen when my medication was increased again. My conclusion was that I’ve added another fun type of inflammation to the list.

This or That

Are you newly diagnosed (1 year or less) with RA?

Manifestations of RA inflammation

I am tremendously talented at creating inflammation. I could win the American Idol of inflammation. Unfortunately, they have yet to produce this for television consumption. It probably has to do with the fact that inflammation is usually either invisible or gross, neither of which are popular with the broadcast network audience (on second thought, maybe the gross is).

Not only do I have a nicely aggressive case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for many years, but I have many other fun outbursts of inflammation to manage. For example, my face has been super-sensitive with redness and pimples that I chalk up to inflammation of my skin.

Now this blepharitis stuff with my eyelids. And for many years I have struggled with allergies that inflame my sinuses.

Inflammation is challenging to manage

Sometimes I worry that the more I treat my RA with effective medications, the more my body produces inflammation like a fire that feeds on itself. “Trying to calm me down, well I’ll show you!” and kaboom some other strange inflammation-related symptoms appear.

It’s hard to keep up. I see a variety of doctors to manage my RA and all the side conditions that have developed over time. But sometimes it feels that they find something new and annoying at every appointment. Why is my body determined to remain in overdrive? What is it that makes me so terribly accomplished at inflammation?

I suppose if we knew that, then I wouldn’t have so much trouble managing my RA and calming my inflammation. But to me, this is a question for research. Why are some of us producers of inflammation? What makes us react in this way? Is it possible to turn off over-active inflammation?

What are the long-term effects?

The long-term effects of inflammation can be quite harmful. I see this in all the damage I’ve accumulated through the RA. But I worry at times about the inflammation I cannot see. How are my organs? They feel and work seemingly OK, but will that last? Is there more I could do, but just don’t know about, to reduce my inflammation?

This is the underlying problem—inflammation hounding me. It aches my bones and irritates my eyes. It makes me sneeze and sometimes wheeze. It follows me everywhere and never seems to sleep. Maybe it’s not really RA that I am fighting, but the plague of inflammation?

I hope one day that we have a better understanding of what causes RA and the relationship with inflammation. I keep thinking that if only I could whisper to my body “hey, it’s OK, calm down,” that it wouldn’t need to overreact with such a harmful response. But we don’t seem to speak the same language. We are divided by a common enemy, one that aggravates and bites. A condition that seems to look for weakness wherever it can and relishes in destruction.

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