I struggled on Monday, and what started out as a nice break for myself, would quickly turn into a day filled with pain. The RA has become a constant, and reminds me of how it all started some 12 years ago when I was reduced to barely being able to move, as if I was crippled. It seems that I have arrived back at that point and everything takes effort. The lack of exercise, spending most days sitting at Moms bedside doesn’t help, and physically the only thing it has brought me is extra pounds. I’m at a point where you can’t get comfortable, you don’t sleep through the night, and you wake several times from the pain of turning. I haven’t had such a strong flare-up in years, and it is painful, debilitating. frustrating, as well as scary. Imagine yourself losing control, the nagging pain robs your sanity and everything becomes a major chore. You feel the inflammation in your body in the form of sore, tender, swollen joints, and certain parts of your body feel as if they were on fire. There is tightness and you can’t make a fist. There is a burning, a desire to give up and not walk another step, although your feet are not tired and feel fine. It’s hard to endure, but even harder to adjust to your new reality and become friends with it. There is so much left you are planning to do, so many dreams waiting to be executed vs. being dreamt, you have goals and plans, and your body is reminding you that it might not come to pass. Your saving grace is your spirit, who is not defeated yet, there still is hope and you fight on, day after day. You do what you can to keep your mood high and positive. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you are just soooo tired of it. That is pretty much how things have been lately, filled with an unwillingness to accept the new reality although I have completely surrendered to what is. It had happened before and went into remission before, it could happen again and that’s what I choose to believe. But is there something more life is trying to tell me? Already on my knees, was my body in the process of forcing me into a decision, because my mind couldn’t make that choice. I truly think that it is what happened the last time. My body broke down to remove me from a damaging circumstances. Things turned out for the better back then, was it happening again?
Monday was such a day, and it was mostly my upper body, arms, hands and shoulders that were sore. There was pressure in my chest and I didn’t know if it was caused from the RA, taking the steroids and daily pain meds, or because my heart just had enough of enduring the constant strain. I took a few extra aspirin on top of the daily regimen that I’m already on per doctor’s orders. I managed somehow, became very tired but also very restless by the end of the day. I hardly did anything but rest. Was it really what I needed, another day of minimum exercise, mostly sitting and laying around? Something had to give and I knew it.
Tuesday morning came and the wheels were turning. I needed movement, and declared that just sitting day after day at Mom’s wasn’t going to cut it anymore. The temperatures were getting cooler, perfect hiking weather for me and a plan was born. I needed to exercise my heart and decided to walk to Mom’s. I was doubtful and had no idea about what strain I was going to put myself under, but I had to. I thought about resting points along the way if I needed to, while shaking my head at my own self and my incapabilities. What happened, I had walked much further distances in the past, never thinking about places where I might rest, but this was my “NOW” and I didn’t like it. Actually, I had to admit that I was growing to not like a lot of things about my current “NOW”, but so it was. At least for the time being.
I decided to rake up the pears in front of the house before leaving, and it would be a good indicator of how the joints performed, before risking the final journey. Although the small stretch of property in front of the house is the towns property, somehow it was still everybody’s responsibility to clean up the mess, and “The village people” knew who did and who didn’t. It was obvious, but also fuel for future conversations and a few looks. The previous storm had shook the tree hard, and the bottom around it was covered with fallen pears. I raked up five large buckets full and had to leave another pile that didn’t fit into the waste container. The pain was tolerable and actually felt as if the movement was helping. It was decided, and I got my pack ready. With water, lunch sandwiches, Fruit roll ups, jacket, I pad and phones, cables, sunglasses, PAIN MEDS, and wallet in tow, I was soon to be on my way. If I could only combine walking to Mom with a hike, an adventure to explore and see things, things usually missed by driving by quickly, if I could enjoy my time being out, to slow it down a bit while getting my exercise and step goal in, perhaps it would be a win win situation in many ways. I would also take advantage of the milder temps before the weather turned completely and winter arrived. It seemed like a winning combination and I was hyped up and pumped. My mind had performed it’s own little motivation speech
and off I was, walking each step to get closer to Mom. This didn’t come with the occasional moments of disbelief that I was actually doing it. I didn’t feel the greatest and while the pain in my legs were manageable, I still felt the tightness in my chest like a warning that this might not be the smartest idea. I knew that I had to keep pushing and promised myself to take it easy if there was ever a need. To listen to my body, but also make changes that my body needed to adapt to. I had reached the end of town as the neighbor chased by me per car. She was driving into the same direction I was walking in, but I was invisible and small. There was no time for a waive hello, heaven forbid for a offer or a lift, perhaps I wasn’t even noticed or seen. For a moment I was reminded that I would be completely on my own. Wasn’t it what I wanted…to slow things down and take time to breath? Wasn’t the rushing car that symbolized hectic and stress exactly what I was trying to get away from? Of course it was, but did the neighbor knew? It was more the principle of it, and realizing how wrapped up everybody was that had me bothered. I was reminded of the rat race I myself had belonged to not too long ago, the madness I was caught up in, with days that passed me by leaving nothing more but meaningless memories behind. Phew another day was in the books, did I manage to complete all my chores was my theme song. It was confirmation that I didn’t want to return, that I wanted the time to notice and that a different path would have to be taken.
It was a beautiful day for walking. The temperatures were in the upper 50’s, partly cloudy with beautiful “Puffies” (clouds) and a light breeze. The next thing I noticed was a playful red squirrel, a first since my arrival. I smiled knowing that surely I would have missed it, had I just driven by. My second message for the day was to have more fun and to take life a little less serious. Thank you Mr. Squirrel, indeed I needed that reminder. My senses were keen and I was in tune with what messages Mother Nature had for me. Just a short while later, a fuzzy caterpillar was near the side of the path, nestled safely in between the grass. Immediately I thought of it’s transformation to become a butterfly and how it related to myself. This entire journey had been transformative, I was getting my answers as well as insights of where I had been and where I wanted to go. Mrs. Caterpillar was no exception and another confirmation and reminder that I was following the correct path.
“Caterpillar holds the grand dream of becoming all that it can be, with no limitations, it reaches out to become it’s greatest expression of self. Putting everything aside, it follows the drive to evolve. Caterpillar teaches us to do the same, to find our power to transform in deep meditation, to go into the cocoon and emerge as a greater aspect of self…believing in the possibilities that with faith all things great and small are possible, and to remember that the grand and beautiful things have very humble beginnings”.
…to be continued