Tag Archives: pain

Maskerade

RA is such a handy little villain. So easy to blame for whatever feels wrong. If I’m tired, I blame RA. If I’m fatigued, I definitely blame RA. If my joints ache for any reason, it’s RA’s fault. If my hands are stiff, sore and swollen, well, we know why, don’t we?

So, this past week my hip hurt. Bad. Immediately, I thought bursitis. It’s back. Suck it up. It’s RA at work again. I downed some of my friend/nemesis, good ole Prednisone. 20 mg. Take that, RA.

But the next day, there was no improvement, rather it felt infinitesimally worse. How could that be? I downed another 20 mg. And what struck me as strange was that it did not hurt to walk. That did not jibe with bursitis, but I pushed that to the back of my mind and concentrated on the exquisite pain I felt just touching the skin around the right side of my pelvis.

I added the heating pad to my regimen, sleeping on it, exactly like you’re not supposed to do. I depended on its automatic shut-off. And anyhow, who was sleeping? 10 mg of Flexeril afforded me three hours tops. The pain was King!

Soon there were bags under my eyes from sleep deprivation and a funny little trail of pink dots over my hip. “I don’t like the looks of that,” said my husband. “Stop using that heating pad.”

But of course, I didn’t. It was palliative; it was a placebo for my pain. The dots got bigger and redder. But still I could walk without the slightest limp. How could it be bursitis?

Yesterday I caved. Went to the Urgent Care. My heart rate was 108, my BP was 160 over what I don’t remember. My systolic BP usually runs between 110 and 120, my heart rate 80 something.  Yep, I was in pain. In so much pain, I couldn’t even multiply 2.5 times 6 to tell the nurse what my weekly Methotrexate dose is. Me, who could calculate IV drips in my head couldn’t multiply simple numbers.

Later in the exam room, my husband verified that 2.5 x 6 was 15; I was on 15 mg of MTX. The doctor came in, did the normal drive-by history, then took one look at my hip and said, “Aha, you have shingles.”

Shingles!! (Insert four- letter word here!)

Well, blow me down. I’d never even seen a case of shingles in all my years of nursing, though I have read about it. Read about how painful it can be. And ironically, I just finished a course on pain management for my license renewal. How providential.

I was given a shot of Toradol along with some sympathy. The Toradol is for pain and inflammation, the sympathy was a bonus from the nurse. And then, I was sent home with a long list of prescriptions. The Percocet makes me sleepy and dizzy, so I’ve been catching up on my sleep.

But the Lidocaine patches, mercy me, what a blessing. They suck away the peripheral pain from all over my right side. I can touch now without causing that electrifying agony, and paradoxically, my sensation is returning. My skin had felt numb, yet on fire. Neuralgia is a funny thing.  So funny, it almost made me cry.

Now, I have to concede that RA is only indirectly involved in this little incident. The meds I take for it leave me immunosuppressed. But this taught me something. To not let RA mask what might be truly going on. I suffered for four days needlessly. I should have sought treatment sooner. I shouldn’t have waited and self-treated. This lesson was driven home quite piercingly.

Meanwhile, the nurse said I am contagious so I had to tell everybody to stay away for a week. I won’t have my little ray of sunshine this weekend.

smile

My best medicine. A loving smile from my cutie.

Knock on Wood

prednisone

 

I have escaped the clutches of this little entity once again. The first time we met was after I ended up in the hospital with a pleural effusion and a pericardial effusion eight years ago. That’s how I was formally introduced to Rheumatoid Arthritis. It did not come calling lightly.

Instead of the chest tube I visualized upon hearing my diagnosis from the ER physician, I was put on a steroid regimen. A drug I’d administered countless times to my patients now became my lifeline. For a while. After several months, I successfully weaned off and stayed off, until this past year.

It started back in February of 2012. My right hand became so painful; I could barely run a brush through my hair. The pain soon had a stranglehold on my hand and on my day.

Forget cooking, forget housework, forget laundry. And worst of all, forget my bike. I couldn’t hold on to the handlebars with just one hand and remain steady as I pedaled. The endorphins my exercise produced were canceled out by the electric fire of pain. Anything that touched my hand sent an exquisite shooting pain up my arm. The joint at the end of my index finger was swollen into a ball and I had to use a brace to keep the finger immobilized.

Eating became a trial. I could barely hang on to a fork, and wielding a knife became an impossibility. It was the same with a pen. I think that hurt me the most, not just physically, but in my soul. Even so, I stubbornly wrote volumes of notes for a friend while I sat in the library. My ace-wrapped hand a blinding nest of pain, I held that pen and I wrote and I wrote. RA was not going to deprive me of even that.

I moved up my regular appointment a few weeks, but I still had to wait too many days before my rheumatologist could see me. I feared a cortisone injection was coming. I was afraid I’d wimp out at the sight of a needle going into my hand, though needles going into my arm every two months doesn’t seem to bother me.

But, he didn’t touch my hand and there was no mention of needle sticks. One glance sufficed. “It’s a wonder,” he said, “how RA can knock you down. Just one affected joint can immobilize you.”

Oh, yes.

Enter Prednisone. Ambrosia of the gods, it seemed. In short order, it gave me back my hand. Handed me back my life.  It became my crutch. I welcomed it and it moved in, lock, stock and barrel.

Oh, I tried to evict it after a while. Several times I started on my journey to displace it from my life. But then my hand would hurt and I’d run back to its protection, its shelter, its sanctuary. I was afraid of the pain, but I was terrified of my immobility.

Pain I could deal with. Loss of independence, I could not. So, I sought my fix. A literal fix, a repair. I turned and returned to the tiny white pill that had restored my life to me.

My attempts to sever that relationship continued, however. I did not like the dependence. I did not like how a bunch of little pills controlled me. The Methotrexate I accepted, the Prednisone galled me.

I began a hit and miss schedule. If I remembered, I took it. And many days I would conveniently remember to forget. Every morning, I’d flex my hand. There would be some tightness, some stiffness, some soreness, sometimes. Most days, my hand felt fine.

My labs have come back normal the last two visits. My CRP, sed rate, all the numbers fall where they should. The Prednisone stays in its bottle. And that stays in the medicine cabinet.  I give myself permission to hope that it also stays in the pharmacy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go knock on wood.

 

Double Drat

A few days ago, I woke up and hit the ground running as I usually do. I don’t mean to imply it was at the crack of dawn. I’m a night owl, sometimes up till 3 a.m. when I get involved with whatever I’m reading, writing or studying. After my “morning” ablutions, I stuck my feet in my sandals and proceeded to walk out of my room.

My brain was aswirl with all the deadlines I had pending, finish writing an exam, critique an article, plan a Chinese New Year‘s quilt and finish a Christmas quilt that was promised, ye gods! for Christmas. As I walked out of my room, there was pain in my right foot. But it didn’t really register. The pain was like the squeak of a mouse clamoring to make itself heard above the roar of lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

It wasn’t until a few hours later when I got out of my car and gave that first step to cross the parking lot that the pain shot high enough to solidify in my brain. Surprised, I immediately began to favor my right foot as my nursing assessment skills automatically kicked in.

It couldn’t be my shoes. I’d just been bragging to my husband how comfortable they were. “Most shoes begin to bother me after an hour or so,” I’d said to him. “But these, I can wear all day long.”

“They’re Eccos,” he’d said, as if that settled the matter.

The day before I’d been dancing and jumping around the living room to my favorite reggaeton music. Dancing is one of my preferred methods of exercise. And since I had my granddaughter with me it doubled the fun. My feet were fine while I gyrated barefoot for almost an hour.

What could it be, I wondered? How did I hurt my foot and not know it? How was it that the feather-light suede strap across my foot was suddenly intolerable? As I limped up and down the grocery aisles it four-letter-word hit me. Neuroma! But no, it couldn’t be!

Back home, I managed to unload the car while dodging my demanding 17-year-old cat, Tigress. She can be so annoying when she wants something, wrapping herself around your feet. Once done, I kicked off my sandals and pressed down on the top of my foot below my third and fourth toes. And zing! An exquisitely painful electrical impulse shot forward and the side of the toes facing each other went numb.

It had to be another case of Morton’s Neuroma. I’d suffered from that many moons ago. I knew the drill, but even so I looked it up. One treatment is administering cortisone shots, which is how I’d been treated. The other was surgery. No, thanks.

Me, being me, I decided to up my Prednisone dose. Do a hit and run like my rheumatologist suggested, take a bolus dose and then wean down, all within six days. “It’s easy with you,” he’d said, smiling. “Cause you know what you’re doing.”

Yeah, a little ignorance could bring some much needed bliss my way.

I really, really don’t want to go see my podiatrist again. Last time I saw him was eighteen months ago when he had to cut away an ingrown toenail. I’d spent the year exercising my brains out and since my left foot twists in a little, it can make my second toe lie up against and partly under my big toe with continued stress. I didn’t know the nail was going to end up forcibly embedded, else I would have eased up on my activities.

I’m still smarting from the shot he gave me to numb my foot prior to taking what looked like a pair of pliers to it. It hurt so bad, I called a friend. But, after six or seven follow-up visits, he patted my foot and said, “That’s it. You’re all cured now.”

“You mean the relationship is over?”

“Yes,” he said, still sitting by my feet. “It’s over.” Then we both laughed.

Believe me, I never wanted a relationship to be over so badly. And now it looks like I might have to set up another date(s). I’m not at all interested in receiving his “caresses.” They’re delivered at the end of a needle while I lie in a pseudo dentist chair.

Double drat on that!

Unbidden

You come to me
unbidden
Searing my body
Scorching my consciousness

I am held captive,
helpless against you
You are an insidious layer,
burrowing under my skin

I sense your blistering touch
Every nerve fiber cries out
Synapses fire and are on fire

The lightest touch makes me shiver
The merest movement makes me quiver
I lie languid, letting you overpower me
I am yours, you devour me

An exquisite torture
that travels down my body
inch by inch
cell by cell

There is no escape
There is no respite
All I can do is lie in wait

In wait
for you to leave
And never return
For you to cease and desist
That is my unfulfilled wish
Never to feel you again
Never have you touch me

I refuse your insolent caress
I will not let you have me!
I will not let you have me!
I will banish you
I will cast you out
Like the scourge that you are

I SPURN YOU!

You
the excruciating
unrelenting
unforgiving
pain
of
Rheumatoid Arthritis

First posted under my pseudonym soledadpaz on March 14, 2011

http://www.fanstory.com/soledadpaz