Category Archives: Arthritis

Learning How to Fly Again

When I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis my life flipped upside down. It was as if I was born into a new body; one that I never imagined could exist. I was a baby and everything was new again. But not exciting. It was new and scary. And my life is still upside down.

I still remember the feeling of intentionally exhausting myself playing soccer or running or dancing all night, then waking up happily sore the following morning. This is not what my body feels now. Now, no matter what I do the day before – whether I just went to work, cooked, gardened, or even just stayed at home “resting” – my body reacts as if someone is constantly sticking pins into my voodoo doll and twisting them deeper and deeper into my bones and joints.  My muscles are just trying to keep up. Continue reading Learning How to Fly Again

Holding Hands With the Reaper

People tell me I should smile more.

But look inside me.

My toes. My toes point soundly forward in shoes that should have my prescription orthotics in them.  I choose not to because I’m 28 and I’m wearing heels as long as I can, so I can feel the “normal” parts of my 20s – and choose pain that I cause myself, thank you very much. I want reminders in 5 years that I could pass as someone my age.  Right now my toes are sound.  I trust my toes, most of the time.

My plantar fascias are aching. They threaten to cramp most nights as I lie in bed, still awake after hours of restlessness.  They ache and throb as if my heart itself has moved to the bottom of my feet. I ask a lot of my feet. These feet hold me in place as I struggle against the rest of me to cook, bathe, check the mail, pedal my bike, press the sewing machine pedal, and occasionally walk in high fashion runway shows.

Though I’m largely unaware of the pain until I pop my ankles, they remain stiff all the time. I rotate my feet clockwise and counterclockwise, back and forth in quick rhythm, in attempt to loosen my ankles and rice krispies happen.  You know, snap, crackle, and pop. Rice Krispies don’t hurt, but my joints do. How can these sounds accompany so much hidden pain that suddenly takes the red carpet?

My knees are chronically, invisibly enlarged from years of soccer and running long before I knew why my injuries were so intense, why they didn’t heal like they should. My quads and hamstrings play injury-tennis, back and forth. The pain is in your court now, left hammie. My weakened muscles are constantly overcompensating for what my body can’t naturally do: fight inflammation, toxins created by overuse, expectant injury, and scarred tissues and bone spurs.  Instead, my body fights my joints as if they are alien matter. Continue reading Holding Hands With the Reaper

There Are Worse Things Than Cancer

This will anger a lot of you.

It angers me, too. Likely because we don’t think about what we don’t already think about – that is, what we already know to be true. We’re good as humans at remaining steadfast in our knowledge of, well, what we already know. If you believe something to be true and then you are exposed to new information that may invalidate or challenge what you know, you can be thrown off your rocker.  Ignorance is bliss, but in no way is it a ticket out of learning and having your eyes opened. Sometimes growth – learning – hurts. A lot. And makes you angry.

That being said, are you ready to get angry? Ready or not… Continue reading There Are Worse Things Than Cancer

Pain is my fishbowl

Many of us are aware of the U.S. Marine Corps tagline, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” There’s also a similar, often-referenced quote by Lance Armstrong:

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

By these definitions, my body is a tomb of never-ending weakness and I’m in a perpetual state of temporary pain (and in my case it doesn’t matter if I keep fighting or quit, the pain is still right here with me). Don’t believe everything you think, it was created by someone else’s perspective first.

When people freak out about bruises or scrapes on my body I have never understood the reason. What’s the big deal? Only in these aesthetic instances can I spout the “pain is temporary” mantra and people will understand that I’m just good at sucking it up, so to speak, and they leave it at that.  Most people do not understand that there is deeper, unseen pain that can last forever in our temporary bodies.

©2015, Glenn Jones/Ikona Photography H/MUA Ashley Caudron
©2015, Glenn Jones/Ikona Photography
H/MUA Ashley Caudron

Continue reading Pain is my fishbowl