Sometimes I wake up with crooked hands. It’s mostly my right hand. My fingers are puffy, sore and tender, and I can’t fully open my hand. Not so good for a right-handed writer.
By the time I’ve eased into waking up with some coffee, had a little morning quiet time in my Bible (that’s hit and miss lately as Graham is rising very early) and completed some kind of morning routine, some of the stiffness has eased.
As I go about completing the varied daily tasks I am privileged to be entrusted with, I sometimes get a little anxious about the joints of my body giving me so much trouble. Some days are busy and frantic. Some days are just busy. The days are getting a little less chaotic as we’re all settling in to the new routine of a new school for Page and a new job for me.
There’s a lot of little things that happen in my days and that I do in these days that I am convinced are important. Being a wife and mom to my family is at the top of my list. Close behind is my work at Union. I was born to be in ministry. It’s where my heart and mind are focused. I’m also honored to be able to write and share people’s stories.
I do not think there is necessarily a separation of the home and work lives as such. I frequently find that I as I’m talking with someone about a story, I learn something about ministry. I also find as I’m pondering the theology of an issue, I get to ask questions about it to interviewees. And the more I learn and grow as a leader, servant and writer, the better person, wife and mother I am.
That’s why I’m having such a mixed reaction to being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
I do not want to deal with this disease. That’s just the flat-out, honest-to-goodness truth. I have enough trouble managing the other stuff in my life. I have people who count on me. I have things I’m supposed to do. I have places to go and people to see. I have bills I have to pay, and this RA is racking up even more of them. I do not need crooked, curled up and crippled hands to stop me or slow me down.
And yet...There they are. Mocking me. Daring me to get anything accomplished. Such little body parts, yet so much discomfort and complete interruption in my life. I’m not used to not being healthy. I have a 4-year-old boy. I need to pick him up when he needs me to. I need to help him buckle his pants. That’s kind of hard when I sometimes have trouble fastening my own garments. I have a teenage daughter. She needs to be driven everywhere.
I am a writer. I need flexible fingers to type on a keyboard. I need a fully functioning hand to pick up my laptop. I am a longtime fitness enthusiast. I need the physical benefits and stress release of an advanced workout. I need the full use of my hands and fingers, which is where most of my issues are right now.
I officially got my RA diagnosis September 13. Aha, Friday the 13th. Coincidence? That’s also when I started prescription medication for it. I knew I had it before that, though. I first noticed something was wrong this past spring. I initially thought it was carpal tunnel, but the joint problems persisted and would move around. As it progressed, I tried a few variations with my diet, but nothing much made a difference. I’m trying now to avoid foods known to cause inflammation and just eat healthful.
The past few days, I’ve went gluten-free. After day one, the results were amazing. I woke up with full range of motion and only a little pain and inflammation. Not so next day. Now, it’s more limitations to consider. But I do think clean eating has been helpful, and the medicine takes several weeks to a few months to fully know its benefits. So, I am hopeful.
Here’s where I need your help. I need your help to remain hopeful, and even increase my hope. I know I’m not alone, and I need to hear what has worked for you. Medications? I don’t mind telling you I was hesitant to be “on” a former chemotherapy drug. But alas, RA is a disease and supplements alone ain’t working. What foods work for you? It’s a confusing mess. How do you cope with the physical limitations? I can otherwise be healthy as a horse, but yet, my feet hurt when I walk. I can do “man” pushups easier than I can open my water bottle afterward.
How do you handle the frustrations of not being able to do everything you feel you need to do? Who do you tell you have a “disease?” What do you say to the person who is shaking your hand and it feels like he is crushing your bones? When do you ask for help? When do you give up?
Oh, but how the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. That reminds me how heavy my Bible has become now that my frequently frail hands can barely pick it up.
I have so much to do. I have so much I want to do and be and hope for. I do not believe God is done with me yet. I know I have things yet to do. It’s a journey I’d rather not take. But it’s the road I’m on and I don’t want to travel it alone.