Weathering My Chronic Body’s Storms By Dana

Time for yet another MOWer’s blog carnival post.

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It’s interesting how people choose to use weather terminology for everyday occurrences.

Your room looks like a tornado hit it!

The bathtub overflowed, and now the bathroom is a flood!

The dog devoured everything; looks like a cyclone tour through here!

That child is as mean as a tsunami hitting land!

Those birds were like hail as they pecked at the roof.

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OK, you get the idea. I hope. I could go on and on. So if we could talk about anything in our daily lives so descriptively like it was something to do with the weather, imagine how we could describe our bodies. I’m not just talking about any bodies. I’m talking about weathering the storms with chronically ill bodies.

Our bodies with chronic illness go though so much and weather many, many different storms. Today, as I sit in the infusion center getting my Remicade infusion, I can tell you that my body has been through storm after storm and so many other weather conditions: rain, hail, sleet, tornado, cyclone, tsunami, blizzard, flood, torrential down-pour, icy roads, slick sidewalks, clouds, excessive heat, thunderstorms, earthquakes, windstorms, breeze, sunshine, clear skies and rainbows.

 
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It’s interesting too because so many people with chronic illnesses, especially pain and joint conditions, put the blame on different weather patterns for how they feel day to day. Many say if the barometric pattern changes suddenly so does the pain, or if it drops or rises, so does the way they feel. For me, if the pressure drops below 30, I know it. I have pain and fatigue and general malaise. If it rises above 30, I feel out of it, and my sinus pressure tends to increase. But I also feel it in my bones if there is a sudden increase or decrease in the pressure. I like to consider myself a human barometer because my body will let me know just before the pressure is going to rise, fall or change dramatically. Many times that tells me when a storm is on its way, when the humidity is coming, etc. I also don’t do well with increased humidity and precipitation, which many times happens when the pressure drops or rises. The body know!

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So enough of the literal, actual weather correlation, let’s talk about my body. How have I weathered my own storms?

RAIN

When it rains, it pours! With my body, I can start with just a little cold or allergies, and it is never anything little. Just these last couple of weeks, my allergies have been fierce. I began to cough from the post nasal drip, the coughing got worse and worse, and the pain increased. How can coughing be painful? It’s painful with a little thing that turns into a bigger thing called costochondritis. It is an inflammation of the connective tissue that attaches the ribs to the breastbone. In my case it involves more than just that but also the rest of the rib cage in the intercostal spacing. Every time I take a breath, it hurts. When I have a bad cough, it really hurts because the deep breathing is nearly impossible. I thought I was winded from my asthma, but it turns out I was feeling this way because I wasn’t allowing myself to take a deep breath. It hurt too damn bad! Who knew that joint diseases could be such a pain! Ha, I made a funny! Of course they are a pain. I mean a pain in areas like breathing. Well, they are, and people need to know this because if you have costochondritis, and you get a cough with it, it not only rains, it pours. You are looking at torrential downpours, my friends!!!

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HAIL, SLEET, ICY ROADS AND SLICK STREETS

Hail and sleet, to me, is when my body is bombarded in all areas at the same time. It happens a lot, unfortunately with chronic pain conditions. Just recently, I was driving down the road and realized I couldn’t move my right pointer finger. It was stuck, swollen and red. The pain was unbearable. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Pain in your one finger? Big flipping deal.” Well, the pain was cruel. My joint pain isn’t just like when you stub your toe, people! It is always real, absolute, moderate to severe pain. I never complain though, I just use it to educate people about chronic pain. So I had to drive with my other fingers. Later that day, I realized the way I was holding the stuck finger, started making my wrist hurt. It began to swell and get painful and swollen. Then my wrist was stuck!  As the day progressed, my elbow stuck, was swollen and red! Then the other wrist and elbow were swollen. Then my knees were red and hot. Then my ankles were both swollen. Then the bottom of my feet began to hurt so badly I could hardly walk on them. I could hardly move. I was worried earlier that day about driving. It was hard to turn the steering wheel. Now I couldn’t walk to the bathroom from the couch. It was my body weathering yet another storm. It was sleeting and hailing, and it was attacking my body alone in the middle of a hot July summer! I was driving my car on icy roads and walking on slippery sidewalks, and it was dry, sunny and super hot! Can you even imagine?

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TORNADO, CYCLONE, TSUNAMI, HURRICANE, FLOOD

I woke up knowing that I was getting a migraine. I have aura’s that tell me one is coming. When I have a migraine, my fibro flares. I don’t really know why, but it happens with me. It never fails. With my fibro, it makes it so difficult to get up and go. The fatigue is overwhelming, and it is so hard to do anything that is just the everyday stuff~get up, get dressed, take a shower, and mommy stuff~so I find it impossible to muster up any energy to exercise, even just to take a short walk. So I will just stay on the couch all day and set my son up next to me. Not moving around will make me so stiff and sore, and one by one, my joints will flare up. The psoriatic arthritis will flare. On a particular occasion that this happened, I also wouldn’t eat or drink enough, so the Sjogren’s symptoms flared~my eyes, mouth and nose got extra dry. I then got sores in my nose, and mouth. I had to see my cornea doctor because my tear duct was infected from getting too dry, and I had to have the tear duct plug surgically removed and the tear duct drained. I had to go to the ENT, and had to have my nose cauterized because it wouldn’t stop bleeding from being so dry. Then my psoriasis flared. The scalp psoriasis was the worst. I was even losing hair. My bowels were messed up and I had to see the GI doctor and have a colonoscopy scheduled…I had weathered my tornado, cyclone, hurricane and tsunami. Then there is the flood. There is so much to wait for after so much has happened at the same time to your body. It takes a while to recover. Imagine the clean up after these storms! It can take so long to feel better, and then to get back into normalcy again. The flood waters do go down, but it takes time.

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BLIZZARD, WINDSTORM, EXCESSIVE HEAT

One day my bones literally feel like they are so brittle that they are barely surviving a blizzard, and have frozen solid, that a windstorm could blow through and break every single one to pieces. Other days my body feels like it is in an oven on broil, and I am overheated. With many auto-immune diseases, we run fevers that are caused by unknown factors. Mine occur usually at night before bedtime or while I sleep. I sweat and get chills just as though I were sick, but it is all part of my auto-immune illness. How my body can burn up from such excessive heat like that; it’s like when they talk about heat warnings and heat alerts in the summer time! It can happen any time for me, even in the middle of winter. What I find so crazy about this is that my body is burning up from excessive heat, yet my bones feel like they are stuck in a blizzard with windchill factors below zero. The bones are so sore and achy that it reminds me of being out in the cold, and shivering, but I’m hot! If a windstorm knocked me over, I would crumble! Are you picturing the imagery here? I hope you are.

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EARTHQUAKE

An earthquake is such a great word to use when referring to my body. I have all these little fault lines throughout my different joints, well it was 6 in all but 2 were already replaced. My hips, knees and shoulders all have Avascular Necrosis. Because the blood supply doesn’t reach the joint, the joint dies, then collapses, and then the only thing left to do is replace the joint. When you look at the affected joint on an X-ray or MRI, there is a crack or line that resembles the letter “C” that goes through the middle of the joint. That is my fault line. After a while, the weight-bearing joints especially, can’t take the pressure on the joint anymore, and collapse and crumble. I had my left hip collapse in 2003 and my left shoulder collapse in 2009. It’s actually strange that the shoulder collapsed before the the other hip and the knees since it isn’t a weight-bearing joint. But basically, it’s a similar idea. I couldn’t carry anything around anymore on that joint, I couldn’t lift or push with that arm anymore. Then one morning, I woke up and I could move it no longer! It had collapsed. These joints move at the fault line and collapse, their own version of an earthquake. So now I have to wait for each one of the remaining 4 joints affected with AVN to have their own earthquake, probably at separate times, and most likely unexpectedly. I have small quakes, where the joint moves just so slightly at the fault line, like if I go from a sitting position to a standing position, vice-versa, or if I sit for a long time, or if I exercise and move around an excessive amount.  I have endured 2 large earthquakes, and will endure 4 more, unless the AVN spreads to other joints, then possibly more, and I will endure small quakes daily for many, many years. Ah, a wonderful picture~sarcasm!!!

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CLOUDS, BREEZE, CLEAR SKIES, SUNSHINE, RAINBOWS

We all have bad pain days, and we all have better pain days. I can’t say that with chronic pain we ever really have good pain days, but we can have good days.  I consider days that have less pain cloudy or partly cloudy, and sometimes during that day, the pain is even less, so I see that as a nice breeze that blows by. If the breeze blows hard enough, then there are clear skies. When there are clear skies, these are days that are definitely better days. I can do more stuff, like make dinner, and exercise, etc. Then when there is sunshine, well those are the even better days where I can do stuff that I like to do not just want I need to do, like dance and swim, and play more with my son. And then there are the rainbows! Yes, you don’t see rainbow days too much. If I had to call a day a “good day” for a chronic, I’d call it a rainbow day. These are the very rare days when I can catch a movie, go shopping, take a drive somewhere. These are harder now that the psoriatic arthritis has started to involve the spine~spondylitis. I can’t sit for a long time in the same position or stand for a long time. Exercise helps a bit, but if I am flaring, it’s hard to start exercise. I mostly look forward to partly cloudy, breezy, clear sky days. Sunshine and rainbows I dream about!

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3 Responses to “Weathering My Chronic Body’s Storms By Dana”

  1. I absolutely loved this!

  2. Very creative! Thank you.

  3. Thanks for the very nice comments, ladies! 🙂

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