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The Miracle of a Well-Timed Good Day

The Miracle of a Well-Timed Good Day

The unpredictable nature of rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease (RA/RD) is an incredibly frustrating aspect of living with this disease. While I’d rather have intense pain intermittently than relentlessly, it is difficult to make plans and commitments when I can’t have a modicum of confidence that I’ll be feeling okay on any given day.

Never knowing when a flare might strike, I am all too familiar with the disappointment of missing out on something important because I was in too much pain. Among the most prominent in my memory are last-minute cancellations of a trip to Asia and a cross-country trip to attend my beloved cousin’s wedding.  I still have small pangs of disappointment when I see video footage of the countries I would have visited or photos of my cousin’s wedding day.

Then there are the countless times I’ve had to stay home in bed instead of attending gatherings with family or friends, seeing out-of-town visitors, or going to events I’d purchased tickets to. Those of us who live with RA/RD know that disappointment is a symptom of this disease.

Experiencing a good day with RA

The silver lining of the horrendous storm cloud that is RA/RD is that when I get a “good day,” I do not take it for granted. Often, this is just a routine day where I am able to go to work without too much pain, get some exercise at some point in the day, and be in a good mood and able to cuddle with my kids in the evening. That is a beautiful thing, and when I have such days I breathe them in like oxygen after being in a room full of smoke.

When a good day falls on a day I have something special planned, it’s even better, rising to the level of a minor miracle.

Timing is everything

I recently had one of those miraculous well-timed good days. Every year my community hosts an MLK Day of Service on the January holiday. My family of four always participates, although some years I am able to be more hands-on than others. Married to an arborist, I often find myself participating in projects involving trees. Last year putting seedlings into holes dug by my children was the most I could muster, and I was grateful to be able to do it.

This year, for whatever amazing alignment of good circumstances that made it possible, I was able to really work. I tackled a giant mulch pile, shoveling it into wheelbarrows, carting loads to newly planted trees, and raking it smooth. While I did this I met other volunteers and loved the camaraderie of a shared goal. I reveled in my body’s temporary ability to perform manual labor, allowing me to connect with the earth, the sunshine,  and with other humans. My children said with surprise, “Mommy, you’re sweaty!” They are used to seeing their father in action while their mother sits on the sideline, so I was thrilled to have my perspiration commented on.

I felt fully alive, vital and healthy.

Of course, RA/RD can occasionally get knocked down, but it doesn’t stay in its corner for long. My body started protesting, letting me know enough was enough. After a couple of hours, I was keenly aware of how I was rolling the dice in using my body so intensely. I made a wish that a severe flare wasn’t in the wings. When I got home I took the maximum amount of ibuprofen my doctor advises. By late afternoon, my hips and knees started locking up, and achiness soaked through my shoulders, elbows, and wrists. I steeped my body in a hot bath, and that night took a muscle relaxer and cranked up my heated mattress pad. In spite of my activity hangover already ramping up, I felt so happy to know that my body is still capable of truly working, at least once in a while.

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

Comments

  • molli2018
    2 months ago

    My advice about getting up in the morning to add to all the excellent advice already offered here in various posts is before going to bed the night before take a look at your calendar to see what activities you have coming up the next day. Then set your alarm for an at least 90 minute window so that you have lots of time to unbend and take your meds. Maybe you need even more but I find that at least I don’t have that”, panicked” feeling when I wake up and feel already out of control.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi molli2018. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here) has a huge penchant for lists: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/list-penchant/. I suspect it may just have something to do with being diagnosed at two and learning that she needed to know what she had to prepare for. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • tckrd
    3 months ago

    What a wonderful article. You absolutely correct. It is great to be able to participate in life. Thank you

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your comment, tckrd, and for being in our community!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    3 months ago

    I agree with you about the joy of having a terrific day. When this happens nothing seems wrong. i love it when this happens.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 months ago

    Yes! It’s so important to bask in the good days!

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