Hope is in Short Supply

The past six months have been brutal. In addition to rheumatoid disease, my doctor suspects I have fibromyalgia, and that would explain the all-over body pain I've been fighting. It is bad enough to have your joints inflamed, swollen, and aching. Add in the feeling of coming down with the flu - throbbing muscles, pounding headache, incipient nausea - and you have a description of the past half-year for me.

My right knee has been swollen and very weak. After a couple of weeks of pain that I could manage, about two months ago, my right leg was in agony from hip to ankle. Driving was the worst - just the twenty minute drive to work was torture. I developed two large knots behind the knee, which was, itself, about the size of a grapefruit. I had an emergency appointment with my rheumatologist, who put a steroid shot into the knee, under the kneecap. In a joint so full of fluid, the addition of more liquid was almost unbearable. After another week or so, my knee began to respond to the anti-inflammatory medication, and the swelling started to subside. The knots behind the knee are still there and still tender, but smaller. X-rays showed joint damage along with a spur and something free-floating inside the joint. Torn cartilege, maybe, or a piece of bone. We aren't sure.

I used the cane almost daily for a couple of months, and I finally gave up and purchased some assistive devices to use around the house. I bought a long-handled scrubber for the shower, so I wouldn't have to bend over to clean the tub surround. I bought a "grabber", a tool with a pincer on the end that I control with a handle, so I can pick up things on the floor. I also started using a long-handled bath aid, because sometimes bending and twisting to wash myself is just too much. I had put off these purchases for a long time - maybe because I didn't want to admit I needed them. Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately, who knows - I can't pretend anymore. The disease is getting worse, and that's just the way it is.

At the latest visit with my rheumatologist, she decided I'd benefit from an increased frequency of dosage with Humira. I just started that last week. It is too early to tell much, but I do feel a bit more energy than before. I've had a few better days as well, but when I woke up this morning, the pain and achiness was back, full-force. It was so hard to move - my joints felt like hinges frozen with rust, and my muscles felt like hardened, dried-out clay. This is probably due to having to drive to North Carolina yesterday for a work-related exam. All that time in the car, not moving, not able to stretch or change position - by the time I got home, I was so tired that I went to bed, even though it was only about 4:30 in the afternoon. I was up and down for most of the night, until I finally just got up around 7:30 am.

That was a couple of hours ago. I took Tramadol - the only pain medication I use - and it has taken the edge off just a bit. The deep pain is still there, but the cold stiffness is a little better. Right now, I'm just trying to gather the energy to clean up the kitchen and go get groceries; the cupboard is bare. I dread it, because shopping is one of the most tiring things for me. I would like to say that I hope the increased frequency of Humira will help, both short- and long-term, but to be honest, hope is in short supply around here just now.


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