RA Snapshot: End of a Workday

With relief, I finally make it to the end of my workday. All day long I have tried to focus on the task at hand, rather than the pain, and shake off the remnants of last night’s medications. I am proud that I not only made it through the day but actually accomplished some work in the midst of all the hurt. I didn’t always take time to acknowledge my strength for making it through a painful work day, but in the 18 years since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease [RA/RD], I have learned to recognize the grit I have developed. Therefore, I celebrate the accomplishment of completing a day of work.

Locking and popping of joints

That is, I celebrate until I stand up from my desk, knees and hips popping, and put my work bag on my shoulder. Wincing, I feel the weight of the bag not only on my shoulder but also on all the joints below my waist carrying my weight. I am careful not to make my bag too heavy with contents, yet RA/RD multiplies weight exponentially, making ounces feel like pounds.

With a deep breath, I start making my way toward the stairs that lead down to the school’s parking lot. My body wants to limp, but as both hips and knees are hurting there is no side to favor; even if I could limp it would only throw my body out of alignment and create additional problems. So I try to walk straight and tall, albeit gingerly and slowly.

RA daydreams: gliding through the air

For a moment I daydream about how wonderful it would be if I could fly through the air, gliding to my car, rather than go down the staircase. However, as my body doesn’t spontaneously develop the ability to hover in the air, I descend the steps. I go slowly, one stair at a time, both feet sharing a step before attempting the next one. With some distaste, I hold onto the handrail. I am aware that it is cold and flu season and my suppressed immune system has a hard time fighting off germs. Wondering how many schoolchildren have touched this rail without washing their hands today, I decide the risk of not holding onto the railing and potentially hurting myself, even more, outweighs the risk of germs. I will use hand sanitizer once I, finally, make it to the car.

As I hoist my bag into the passenger seat and then hoist myself into my minivan, I feel a moment of relief at not only making it through the workday but also making it to my vehicle. However, the relief is temporary, for as soon as I apply pressure to the brake pedal a fresh jolt of pain surges into my inflamed right hip. I take a deep breath, wonder momentarily how quickly self-driving cars will become the norm, and drive, steeling myself for the home and family tasks that still await before I can close out this day.

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