|Hell of a Summer...|
|Hell of a Summer - 2|
|Hell of a Summer - 3|
[Flashback: "January 1, 2009"]
Jacques, fat and slovenly, sits on the couch. "This is the year. I'm going to get in shape this summer." He groans and winces as he gets off the couch, "and I'm going to write more in my blog." He stretches his back and totters off to the kitchen, wondering why his hips feel like his legs had been put on backwards.
Present day, and I'm sitting on my couch. Summer is almost over and the dream of being in-shape, svelte, cut or even mildly thinner seems a distant memory. I'm fatter now than I was then, I hurt more and in more places, I totter more pronouncedly (if that's a word) and my hips feel like a giant 3-year-old twisted them around a few more times.
The difference is, I don't wonder WHY anymore.
Since by better 3/4 and I are both teachers, summer officially began after graduation - June 15. The day before that, I went to the doctor about the pain in my hips which had, by that time, become pain in my feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck, wrists, hands, fingers and toes (my elbows, curiously, were exempt). The doctor ordered tests - 'cause that's what they do - and told me two things:
1. "I don't know what's wrong with you"
2. "It has to be SOMETHING because you're in too much pain for it to be nothing."
I agreed as she wrote down the name of a rheumatologist for me to talk to, ordered a ton of X-rays, and stuffed a handful of Celebrex samples into my hand. I thanked her and went home to make an appointment.
School ended, and graduation was torturous... not the speeches, or the length of the thing, or all the mingling after the pomp, but because sitting on a hard plastic chair for two hours was just about enough to make me scream - and the dress shoes felt like patent leather iron maidens.
The X-rays showed curiously attractive feet, finger, and neck bones... but nothing unusual, and the blood test results came back in about a week. She had scribbled across the results things like "no gout" and "normal" and "cholesterol too high," at which I chuckled. That's one reason I was going to start exercising - to bring down my cholesterol. The reason I STOPPED exercising 18 months ago was because I was starting to hurt all over. Makes a walk around the block seem like a walk around the block with evil imps chewing on your limbs.
So cut to June 24th - the appointment with the rheumatologist. I had, by this time, done a fair amount of web research and had an idea what I was in for. After all, there are very few diseases that cause widespread joint pain and can make your little toe look like a cherry tomato: Arthritis. In itself, it doesn't seem serious.
Not all arthritises are equal. Osteoarthritis is more localized, and not as destructive as, say, rheumatoid arthritis, which is chronic, progressive, destructive and disfiguring. There are about a billion other types of arthritis, but the one that I have is rheumatoid's little cousin: Psoriatic arthritis. It comes with the same immune system disorders as rheumatoid arthritis, all the chronic, disfiguring, progressive goodness, and it also includes a horrible skin condition (luckily, I got dealt a very mild case of THAT).
So, I sat in the doctor's office. Summer was just starting for me. I was about to turn 38 years old in a month and I find out that I have a chronic, progressive disfiguring disease that comes with lots of pain and an embarrassing rash. There's really no known cause and no cure (hence "chronic"). It just sits there, making your joints look like sausages and hurtin' and gettin' worse.