In the last few weeks ~ from 15 July, 2012, to be precise ~ I have frequently marvelled at how quickly it is to go from a normal, average, day-to-day existence to one in which constant, near-crippling pain changes everything.
I’d got slammed in the temperamental lift doors at my mum’s place in KL on the 30th of June, the day I arrived with my two girls for what I thought would be just a lovely two-week break. I spent the rest of our time there in varying degrees of discomfort, which I figured was only to be expected… of course I’m in pain, I got slammed in lift doors, didn’t I? Many heat patches from Tiger Balm and Salonpas were put to use, and quite a few Panadol Extras.
The day after we got back to HK ~ that 15th of July turning point ~ my right arm went into major spasm. I spent a sleepless night seriously wondering if I could possibly have dislocated my shoulder and just not realised (hey, get to my age before you judge me) and thinking about shipping myself up to A&E. I saw my GP at about 9:30am and pooh-poohed her suggestion that I take the next three days off work… I still have the email I sent people at the office saying what a ridiculous notion this was and of course I’d be back at my desk the next day.
I spent the next three days mostly asleep from the cocktail of meds I was on, and in severe pain when I was conscious. The pain would also transfer: from arms to shoulders to neck to hands to knees to feet and back again. There were times when it felt as if my skull was literally bulging when a spasm hit.
Finally, after a month of not getting any better despite more meds and physiotherapy (which really helps but, so far, more for short-term effect), I had an MRI and blood test. The first showed degradation of cervical vertebrae (partly from age, partly from multiple traffic accidents when I was younger, when I never really got properly looked at or treated for neck injuries).
Then of course, that RA blood count. Half of me was relieved that finally, here was an explanation for the last four weeks… I think that must be the Catholic half (“thank god, no one can accuse me of making this all up! See you tossers, I wasn’t just acting up for sympathy!!!!!!!”).
So right now it’s that pain; that crazy, crazy pain. I honestly thought giving birth was the worst I could ever experience and perhaps it was, but at least I knew it would end sooner or later and I’d have a lovely baby when it was all over. Today, again, my left knee is grinding like an exotic dancer against a pole, my feet are swollen like balloons and my fingers like cocktail sausages… On my worst days, I have looked like Stephen Hawking minus his wheelchair (politically incorrect? Pfft. I’m in pain, I can say what I like).
Next time: RA & Brushing Your Own Hair, Shaving Your Own ‘Pits and Doing Up Your Own Bra