My Unhinged Roller Coaster Ride

Who doesn’t love a great roller coaster ride?  I understand they are not for everyone, but I love them!  It’s been awhile, but I would hop on one in a second if I could, even at the tender, young age of fifty. (Haha!)

The adrenaline rush I get is exhilarating!  The more twists, turns, dips, and dives, the more I enjoy it.  The quick inverted loop de loops with negative, and positive G forces, are right down my alley! Once the roller coaster ride ends, that exhilarating feeling disappears and quickly returns to normal.

I took an amazing “coaster” ride a couple of years ago.  I am referring to the road trip I took across the United States of America in June, 2016.  We were coasting down the highway in a purely unadulterated, let the top down, wind in your hair, wild ride!  The duration of this ride was ten days and four thousand, six hundred, fourteen miles!  It was truly worth every single one!

I experienced no symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) on our entire wild western adventure.  I had no idea anything was wrong.

drive empty highway lane
There are many terrific memories layered into this trip.  I dedicated three consecutive blog posts, from beginning to end, a couple of months ago.

Upon my arrival home from Arizona, I would open my car door, step onto the driveway, and immediately embark on my next “wild ride.” This one didn’t look fun at all!  It presented itself as quite intimidating. The immense “roller coaster ride” was perched parallel to my real and very normal life. Two weeks prior to July 19, 2016, I had been stuck in this parallel, alternate world. I was totally lost.

July 19, 2016

The visit to my first doctor was like boarding this insane ride. I buckled in tightly!  This is where the coaster begins to move and my heartbeat increases a bit.

The main goal for this particular day was to merely embark. I wasn’t given a choice so I had to do something. Why not engage with the doctor I trust the most.

This doctor was, and still is, my OBGYN. I will call him Dr. OB since I have not obtained permission to use his real name.


My mind was a complete mess!

“What will I tell the him?”

“How will I convey to him the severity of my pain?”

“Is he going to tell me what my sister told me he would say?”

“Will he think I’m bonkers?  Of course he will!”

“Maybe I won’t say anything at all!”

“He is not a bone specialist.”

“Why am I even here?”


I know…you get the point!  Stupid questions constantly inundated my brain with unnecessary garbage.  My never ending thoughts were my brain working overtime. It was exhausting, but I couldn’t shut it down.  This was so unlike me.  I was never one to worry or overthink, but this situation was very different.

I pulled into the parking garage at the hospital where his office was located. I turned off XM radio, as it doesn’t get reception in the garage anyway.  The silence was deafening.  I was all alone with my convoluted thoughts.

My search for a parking space always ends up three or four levels above where I need to be. On top of that, it is usually the absolute furthest parking space from the door of the building.

Typically, I would not mind walking, but on this day I would! My entire body was rebelling against itself.  My knees and ankles were leading the charge!

I drove up to the second level and what do you know! A parking space was just opening up on the actual level of my doctor’s office!  This NEVER happens!

Some may call it luck, but I will refer to it as God. 

On this particular day, God saw fit to open up a fantastic parking space right next to the door that I would be entering!  He knew I was physically and mentally at the lowest point I had ever been.  He also knew that I would need something as small as a good parking space in order to make me smile. This would count as a small victory for me!

close up view of cars

I recall saying out loud, “Thank you Lord.”

When I opened my door, the hot, humid, South Carolina air rushed into my car.  Mid-July in South Carolina is definitely not for sissy’s.

When I summoned enough courage and energy to grunt and groan my way out of the car, the suffocating heat suddenly eased.  A steady, cool breeze began to flow throughout the garage. It didn’t even have the slightest scent of exhaust fumes from the hundreds of cars in there.

Was a storm approaching?  Could it just be a weird weather anomaly? It sticks out in my mind because it just felt strange, as the sun was shining bright.

I stood in awe for what seemed like an eternity. It was probably only a minute or two.  I didn’t want to move, so I just stood there in a semi paralytic state. This breeze felt out of this world!  I was taking it all in while my eyes were closed. I do not recall any people or cars passing me by.  If so, I’m sure they thought I was peculiar, but that’s ok.  I didn’t care.

Several times, I deeply inhaled this cool, refreshing air and felt strangely invigorated!  I suddenly had a new energy that I hadn’t felt in one complete month!  It was exhilarating!  I congratulated myself with a gentle, full body stretch and again…could’ve cared less who was watching!

The short, inclined walk to the door of his office was like the first, slow, clickety clack, uphill portion of my unhinged ride.  If you love roller coasters, you’ll know what clickety clack I am referring.  On this day, I walked to the door with a limp that was barely noticeable. The heavy limp that I had become so accustomed had all but disappeared.

I actually felt somewhat normal…whatever normal was!  It had been four weeks since the onset of my first symptom, but it was as if I had the upper hand over my insidious pain, if only for a few fleeting moments.  This was like the first small downward dip on a roller coaster.  You know…the teaser hill just before the big one!  It was enough to get me excited about being there.

The phenomenal feeling I had from the steady, refreshing breeze was like the first big drop on my wild ride. It was TOTALLY AWESOME!

Using the gift of memory and reflecting back to that day, I now associate that brisk breeze to the breath of God serving as a gentle reminder that He was always with me, especially at my lowest. He gave me what I needed in that moment to merely put one foot in front of the other.  For that, I am very thankful!

I was able to hold my chin up and walk with a new sense a purpose. I suddenly wanted to FIGHT!  When my pain level was a 10 on my (self developed) 1 to 10 pain scale, I actually had a glimmer of hope, which was very empowering.

I entered the waiting room.  

No one would’ve ever thought I was housing such horrible pain in my body. My hair and makeup was done, I was dressed nicely, and I even had on my beloved high heel shoes. I was not ready to give those up. I have quite a collection, thanks to my daughter!  That’ll be another blog post in itself.  You’ll understand why when I write it!

I did; however, toss an essential part of my daily wardrobe onto the floorboard of my car.  These days, I do not go anywhere without my black or brown Sanuk flip flops. To me, they are like mattresses for my feet.

The nurse came out and looked at her clipboard.  She took a few extra seconds to stare at the name on the chart.  I knew she was going to call, or attempt to call my name. This tends to happen to me most everywhere I go.

I’m not sure what’s so difficult about it.  M-a-r-i-a-n-n-a.  You know, Marianna…like “Mary” and “Anna” put together. I always smile and shake my head when it’s mispronounced.  I also gently correct whoever mispronounces it because there’s so much meaning behind my name, including my middle name, Ruth.

When introducing myself, I always say “Hi. My name is Marianna…with an ‘a’ on the end. It’s ok to say the ‘a’. I actually prefer it. That’s the name my mama and daddy gave me, and I absolutely love it.” 

Now that’s a lengthy introduction but I doubt many people forget my name. Most just smile at me and appreciate the clarification ahead of time. It is indeed, a conversation starter.  I generally proceed sharing how it came to pass that my mama and daddy derived at my most treasured name.

My “unhinged roller coaster ride” has only just begun. There are many twists, turns, and inversions yet to go.  This ridiculous ride would last much longer than my ten day road trip one month prior…when I was perfectly healthy.

With that, I will say, “I’M GOOD, I’M GOOD.”  When my unusual new season of life is in its full fury, I would do my best to carry on, and smile along the way.”  

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24  KJV (always)


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