Predictable Unpredictability

Predictable Unpredictability

I’ve been suffering from a bad flare-up in both ankles and my entire right foot for over two weeks now, and it’s driving me crazy. The right ankle is much worse (more swollen and painful) than the left one, which is usually the pattern for some reason, whenever this happens. Desperation has forced me to go back on prednisone, taking 30 mg for the last two weeks. And it doesn’t seem to be helping much, which is exasperating and worrying. I’m mad.

Resting, elevating, icing, wrapping–I’ve tried just about everything with this right ankle. I even took over a week off from work to try to get this thing calmed down. Luckily my rheumatologist was able to squeeze me in for an appointment in a couple days and I really hope that goes well. I’m guessing I’ll have to have another MRI scan done and maybe I’ll be referred to another orthopedic specialist again. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. During the last nine years that I’ve had problems with my ankles, I’ve been to so many different doctors and I’ve tried several treatments. Steroids, cortisone injections, physical therapy, orthodic shoes/inserts, taping, wrapping, acupuncture, surgery. It’s all too much. And now I fear that it’s going to start over again. But what can I do? My entire right foot is in constant, throbbing-stabbing-shooting pain. I can’t adapt to this pain level and try to forget about it. But I’m also dreading getting more of a run-around and being bounced from doctor to doctor.

While the pain is certainly bad enough, the emotional stress this flare-up is causing might even be worse. I absolutely hate the unpredictability of this disease! And all of the unknowns, anxieties, fears, unanswered questions. The not knowing of how long a flare-up will last, or if  it will even go away, is maddening. That’s what I’m having trouble dealing with right now. Every time I feel a stab of pain in my foot I get a sinking feeling in my stomach, wondering if this is going to get better. Admittedly, I’m a pretty anxious, worrywart of a person. I’m also very impatient. These things don’t work well together when you’re in the middle of an intense RA flare-up, obviously.

How do you distract yourself while you’re going crazy waiting for it to end? How do you deal with the unpredictable nature of this disease? Zoning out in front of the TV helps a little bit. Or zoning out at my laptop, goofing around on Facebook or other social media. Even though I knew better, I Googled some questions related to my ankle problems the other night. That of course brought up all kinds of frightening, traumatizing things. Don’t ever do a Google image search for “ankle surgery,” by the way. Trust me. Instead of making me feel better, looking up medical stuff on the Internet made me feel more anxious and stressed. So for the time being, I’m going to resist the urge to get my questions answered by asking the Internet and reading patient forums and things like that. Too risky! I can’t deal with that right now. The Internet can be a wonderful, abundant source of information regarding health and medical issues. But it can also scare the crap out of you.

What else can I do to help get me through this? Talk to someone? Pray? Drink a bottle of vodka every night (I’m not doing that, by the way)? Other than falling into a self-induced coma, I’m kind of out of ideas. I did go out to see and photograph a band last night with my friend, despite wanting to stay home and off my feet. Luckily I didn’t give in to that urge and I went and had a really fun time. Continuing to do fun things, to live a “normal” life, is probably a good thing to keep in mind. So is remembering to hold onto hope, even when you don’t know what’s going to happen next with this sneaky, cruel disease.

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