God has so intricately designed the human body for everything to cohesively work together. We are all so beautifully and wonderfully made. When one thing is amiss, it could potentially wreak havoc beyond belief, as in my mysterious case.
My symptoms began with no warning and quickly created a vicious domino effect inside of my body. I referred to it a “joint jumping”. Intense pain would settle in my joints, and the next day, it would jump to a different area. It would leave behind residual dull, throbbing sensations everywhere it touched.
Each day seemed to present pain somewhere new. When there were no other joints to settle in, all of them throbbed in pain simultaneously with the same intensity.
The inside of my body was like a pinball machine. Pinball was fun back in the day. I had a grammar school friend that had one inside her house. That heavy metal ball would bounce all over the place, lighting up that colorful machine. I wasn’t very good at it but it was still fun.
What I was now experiencing would be no fun at all. This was not a game!
No one noticed my dilemma. I looked the same on the outside and pretended to be fine as long as I possibly could. I still dressed up, wore my high heel shoes as much as possible, applied my beloved make-up, fixed my hair, worked hard, but played…a whole lot less. Once I was home, I was done. I would physically, mentally, and emotionally be exhausted on a daily basis.
Fourteen days was all it took. My first symptom appeared on June 17, 2016 and I would make my grand entrance into my alternate universe on June 30, 2016.
During these fourteen “joint jumping,” or “pinball” days, I had somehow figured out a way to cope with it, even without Advil or Aleve. I didn’t want to mask the pain. Stubborn? Yes! I wanted a true picture of what my body was doing and how I was truly feeling. I knew I was dealing with a different kind of illness, I just didn’t know what it was.
For now, it seemed that after an hour or two from waking up and moving around, the pain would subside just enough make it through the day. The work day actually took my mind off the pain. I still had to improvise many things I normally did without thinking, but for now, I would find a way.
I vividly recall grimacing or audibly groaning when I used my trusty, old, metal, stapler for stapling reports at work. It was very difficult squeezing it because my hands were strangely weak. There would be many times I would just use a paper clip instead, and the pain was even noticeable doing that!
On a side note, my new district manager, Mr. Wine, would notice the difficulty I had performing this very simple task. When I came to work the following day, I noticed right away that he had replaced four of my favorite black, retro staplers with four vibrantly colored spring loaded ones instead.
These new staplers barely had to be touched in order to get them to work. It definitely didn’t hurt near as much. It made me feel a bit more normal having the ability to use such a simple machine again. The purple one sits on my desk still today. (Thank you Mr. Wine!)
Initially, going to the doctor wasn’t at the top of my list. What could the doctor do for me anyway? I wasn’t sick! I was in physical pain, but this intense, severe pain was very different. Maybe I should’ve made an appointment, but I didn’t .
I knew he would tell me to try Advil or Aleve and I was determined not to do that. Surely this wasn’t part of growing older! This all happened in two weeks! I’ve never heard of aging what seemed like 50 years in a mere two weeks.
I generally have a high tolerance to pain, so I told myself to get it together and stop sulking in my misery. I would carry on…and PRETEND to smile along the way. How many people could I fool, and how long could I put on this front? I am stronger than this!
To maintain some sense of control, I began journaling my predicament. I jotted details, no matter how insignificant they may have been. I was recording the following information.
- Dates and times of pretty much everything.
- Everything I ate and my calorie intake at the end of every day. (I averaged 1415 daily calories over a period of 85 days.
- Weather…Rainy, sunny, hot, or cold. (It was summer time in South Carolina, so for now, hot and humid!)
- Restroom activity
- A.M. and P.M. pain levels. (I developed my own pain scale.)
- Which parts of my body were hurting
- Sleep journal…or lack there of.
- Activities for the day. (i.e. work, grocery shopping, church, resting, etc.). My exercise regimen would suddenly halt. I did nothing that I did not have to do.
My “ridiculous issue” that I was so miserably “controlling” suddenly got increasingly more serious. It would definitely now have, and obtain the upper hand for six consecutive months.
AND JUST LIKE THAT…
I CROSSED OVER INTO MY ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.
I suddenly woke the morning of June 30. The only thing that moved were my eyelids. They quickly flashed open as I laid there. I’m sure they were “as big as saucers,” as my sweet grandmother (Maw) used to say.
I felt that the “buzz of my neon sign” in my head was actually a short circuit instead! I could not move at all.
“Oh my God! Please help me!” That’s the only prayer I could get out of my mouth. I was just lying there in a somewhat of a paralytic state. Maybe it was fear. I don’t know, but I couldn’t lay here all day long. I had to go to work later. Stubborn? Maybe…but dedicated may be a better term for this one.
My brain wasn’t making the connection for movement first thing on this particular morning. It took so much effort to tell my body what to do. It was excruciatingly painful to even think about moving! I was actually very scared.
I could not turn my head to see what time it was, but it was well before my clock was set to alarm. Not only could I not turn my head, my knees and elbows were also on fire! They certainly would not be ignored.
Of course I questioned, “Why me?” Then…I immediately thought “Why not me?” I’d rather it be me more than anyone else in my family. I didn’t even know what it was, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy!
Am I formidable enough to take on this monster?
I started with my toes. I would slowly begin to wiggle them and tried coaxing them to function properly. If not, I wouldn’t be able to walk. I would work on everything else all the way up to my very wide awake eyeballs.
- Toes…Slowly but surely (But check!)✅
- Ankles…Got it! (After a few agonizing loud pops.)✅
- Knees…“Wascally wabbits!” (Same as above. agonizing loud pops.)✅
- Hips…Didn’t hurt so all was perfect here! (Thank you Jesus!)✅
- All ten fingers…Lord have mercy! (What in the world?)✅
- Wrists and hands…Ugh! (A couple of agonizing loud pops here too!)✅
- Elbows… This would take awhile but finally coerced them to bend.✅
- Shoulders…“Sufferin Succotash” but eventually a go.✅
- Neck…“Ohhh…My Lord…If I could only turn my head to see what time was!” Ok, finally!✅
It was 3:40 a.m. I would not go back to sleep. Laying in the bed, I kept everything moving until about 4:30 a.m., so technically, my exercise routine was not dead yet.
My husband was on night shift so he wasn’t home.
I finally mustered up enough energy and courage to crawl out of bed…and yes…I LITERALLY crawled out of bed.
It took several minutes to devise a plan. I would move in super duper slow motion!
A bad dream? No, but I wish!
Alternate, but very real world? Yes, indeed!
I was thinking the first step onto the floor would be a doozy. I have a high-sitting, king sized bed. I had to slip off the bed with the intent not to “hit the ground running” like I usually would do. My feet were throbbing and had that “pins and needles” feeling in both of them already.
I rolled to my belly to try and let myself down putting some pressure on my elbows.
I said out loud, “That’s a negative!”
I also tried sliding off the bed on my butt, but I couldn’t put pressure on my hands and wrists to lift me to a seated position either!
I uttered “Are you kidding me right now?”
Any pressure to my joints, even onto my mattress was near impossible. I was in a pickle! I wasn’t sure how to get down. I wouldn’t allow that happen again. I have a step stool next to my bed to this very day to help me in, and out of the bed.
I finally rolled to the foot of the bed where sits an old, and well traveled chest passed down from my husband’s side of the family. It hurt to lower myself to the chest, but it worked! It was exactly the right height to sit and slowly apply pressure on my stinging, throbbing feet.
“Yay me! I did it!”
After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally made it out of bed. I looked like a ninety five year old woman hunched over walking with sheer pain in each movement. I started out slowly, but paced the living room floor until time to get ready for work. The longer I stayed in motion, the better I felt. Praise the Lord for that!
Each morning seemed like Groundhog Day. I started setting my alarm clock an hour earlier to allow time for moving and stretching before I had to get out of bed. This would give me a little extra time to get dressed also. I do this to this very day, but now I only set it thirty minutes earlier. My medication now helps.
In the past, I was a morning person, but the days of just popping out of bed were over. I now dreaded waking up every single solitary day!
Ok, maybe a doctor would be in order. What would I tell them? That I hurt all over? That just sounds stupid. There is no test for pain…is there? I have an appointment with my OBGYN soon. Maybe I’ll ask his opinion.
“Yep, he’ll think I’m crazy. I think I’m crazy!” I thought to myself.
It was only three weeks ago that I was on the road trip of my life. I was 100% healthy and perfect on our entire adventure. My symptoms began on the very day we returned home. All I did was step out of my car onto our driveway.
At the time, I didn’t know it, but rheumatoid arthritis had found me as its hostess for this vicious disease.
For those that may not know, RA is an autoimmune disease that sees healthy cells as foreign. It has absolutely nothing to do with age. The immune system is constantly working overtime to fight these healthy cells surrounding the fluid lubricating joints. It can also affect organs if not properly treated.
I can definitely attest that the days of taking great health for granted were officially over!
Although, every morning after June 30, I would have to coerce my body to move when I opened my big brown eyes each morning, I was at least breathing, so praise the Lord for that!
It was so very difficult to “carry on, and smile along the way!” On some days, I could not.
Looking back, and now also blogging about it, I pick up on little nuggets that literally make me laugh out loud! (My free therapy.)
I truly wish I had a video of the real life episode of me rolling myself out of the bed. (The perils of having a high bed, but it sure is pretty.)
I remember watching Tim Conway acting like he was rolling down the stairs in slow motion on The Carol Burnett Show in the 1970s. This was so stinkin’ funny…like “laugh out loud” funny. Yes, you can google it. I imagine I looked similar to good ole’ Timmy!
Each morning God woke me up. I would be very thankful for each and every day!
This wasn’t going to be easy but with Him, I’d be ok.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalms 139:14 KJV (always)
With this, I can say, “I’M GOOD, I’M GOOD!”