Thursday, March 9, 2017

Unpredictability

'She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged'
 - Virginia Woolf






There is a split second as I transition from being sleep to waking up where I can usually tell what my day is going to be like. 
Same days as soon as I open my eyes I am overcome by pain. 
Those are the days I long to slip back to sleep to escape again. 
Other days I wake up and my first thought is 'thank you body'. 
These are the days when I do not have to automatically reach over to my bottle of codeine;
a day where I have a little more room to breathe;
where I may be productive.
Everyday in that split second I am welcomed by pain it just depends to what degree.
You learn to adapt but you never truly get used to it. 
There are days when I wake up and in that split second before I am fully present in my body 
I can forget about the pain.
 Blissfully unaware of what I am going to face. 
It is heavenly and cruel at the same time.
 It's like a tiny glimpse of being in a healthy body then suddenly it is whisked away 
in a matter of second. 
In my dreams I run, I have endless energy, I feel no pain, 
I am free and then I wake up 
and find myself in a cruel nightmare that I cannot wake up from.

If I had to describe my health at the moment I would use the word 'unpredictable'. One day I struggle; the next I have more energy; the next my pain is really severe; the next I start to feel like my old self again and then I am bed ridden again and all that can happen in one day. It's an exhausting place to be mentally to say the least. I don't know when I open my eyes what I am going to face and things can change within a matter of minutes which leaves me feeling really unsettled and anxious.

Three weeks ago I had an AMAZING week for the first time since I got this nasty infection. I was able to go to work three days! I thought finally I might be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! Everyone noticed a difference in me but I was cautiously optimistic; I didn't want to jinx myself. Bring on Monday and another working week and I wake up to severe pain that made me physically sick and just like that I was brought down back to earth with a thud! I lay in bed begging the morphine to kick in and take away some of my pain. I switched back to survival mode and became quite despondent. Why? Why let me feel better then put me back here so quickly? Then by Friday I was starting to feel a lot better...see what I mean now!

To my amazement last week I was able to work my full 12 hours! Twelve glorious hours of feeling purposeful and fulfilled. For once my body was playing the game. I was so proud of myself because I knew how hard I worked to get there. If you know me by now and the nature of my illness there is always a but...by the weekend it became clear that my body had been pushed to it's limits and was not impressed with me. The weekend was spent sleeping, resting, recovering in an attempt to gain some sort of wellness for Monday. Monday came and I gave myself a little pep talk ' you can do this!' On went my brave faced as I endeavoured to hide my pain and discomfort. I struggled to focus...a mix of overwhelming pain and fogginess from the pain killers clouded my brain. I am there in person but my mind is else where. I am consumed by the battle being fought in my body. I sit there and day dream about what it must be like not be to in pain...I want to scream do you know how lucky you are that you have a body that isn't attacking itself? I ache with jealously as everyone walks around so effortlessly...do they treasure those precious steps? As fate has it as soon as I write that sentence a group of women run past my dining room window...thanks world!

I 'survived' at work until lunchtime and by the time I got into my car I burst into tears; tears of pain, frustration and tears of sadness. Everything just became hard again. Pain gets stronger, I feel weaker! I came home took some pain medication and sank into my bed. The last few days not a lot has changed. My pain is still flaring and my soul is exhausted. I am longing for those good days to come back or at the moment i'll take a little less pain,..pretty please.

I've had a few specialist appointments lately. I saw my Rheumatologist and we've hit a bit of a bump in the road again with treatment plans and what to do. My case is complicated as over the years I have reacted or found no relief from many medications. The hard thing with Lupus is that medications prescribed are used in other conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis,Cancer and in organ transplant patients to prevent rejection. So this leaves us in a trial and error situation. It is daunting looking at my long list of failed medications. The only medication that has ever really helped is Prednisone..again which is far from ideal. We discuss the possibility of a medication called Rituxan as a future possibility. It would not be an easy medication to get at this stage but when the time comes we will cross that bridge. We decided that for now to leave this medication as our 'safety net' which for me is reassuring to know we have an option when the time comes. For now I wanted a rest away from these nasty medication and their frightening side effects. I am so tired of putting these toxic drugs in my body when there is no way to guarantee they will help me anyway. We talked about my extreme fatigue and he stated how that is the hardest symptom to treat. There is no medication to magically take away the fatigue. So like many things I just have to ride it out....He did introduce a new medication called Nortriptyline which I take at night to help me sleep and help with my pain. It does seem to be working a treat so I am thankful for that.

Next on the list was an appointment with my Ophthalmologist to check my eyes. I had begin to notice my eyes felt cloudy and reading was becoming more difficult. As Plaquenil has given me early stage retinal toxicity I immediately made an appointment to see him. Of course this has resulted in more tests being ordered so we can hopefully identify the culprit...I am hoping I just need my prescription in my glasses changed and no further damage has occurred.

Finally I had an appointment with the Oral Surgeon to see about getting a new retainer made for my jaw. I am finding due to my high pain levels lately my jaw has decided to pop in and join the pain party. We think majority of the pain is coming from me clenching my jaw as a result of the pain and grinding my teeth at night. Yet another appointment was made to come back in and get my impressions made for my splint.

Then to wrap it all up I had a letter from my GP asking me to go to MedLab to get bloods taken so she can just check my levels again. I texted Dan from MedLab saying 'I feel like looking after my health is a full time job!'. The more I think about it the more it is true. Living with a chronic illness IS a full time job. Except for the very obvious difference that you don't get paid, you don't get time off, there is no holiday leave and you cant just hand in your resignation when you have had enough. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 23 years living with Lupus has been my full time job.

I always want to bring you a cheery, happy blog post as recently they have understandably been difficult reads. I know it breaks my family and friends hearts to read about this pain and a big part of me feels guilty for that. I just feel that there is healing in me being able to write down my experiences. I struggle to talk about this pain to people...my automatic response is usually 'I'm okay'. I can't sugar coat this though the reality is living with this illness is hard, emotional and raw. I've said it before and I feel like I need to say it again. I don't want you to feel sorry for me or pity me. I strive so hard every day not to let Lupus rule my life. Maybe if anything I just want you to really treasure your gifts you have and don't take a single step for granted. I just want to thank you all from the bottom on my heart for all your kind and support comments. These are the little gems that I hold on to when things are tough.

I guess the beauty is that there is always still hope; hope that tomorrow I will wake up and the pain will be less; hope that this flare will burn itself out quickly; and hope that soon things will be looking up again. That's the nature of this illness you never know what is going to happen. I am extremely thankful that I have had some good days though. It is encouraging that my body still does remember how to have them. For once I am going to be greedy and ask for some more!

 I've got a beautiful life that I want to fulfill and live preferably without this pain!