Rheumatoid Arthritis and Vegas Baby!

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I think Vegas might be my city of wisdom – is that weird? I always learn so much after going. This last visit I was tagging along with my husband for his conference and I was all flared up with rheumatoid arthritis. I decided to use this trip as a test for the upcoming trip to Spain and let me tell you RA (rheumatoid arthritis) does not show any promise for being behaved while traveling.

I was doing all this research about the best places to go during the day and went out walking all over the city the first day. I started out with pain in my feet and ankles but I thought it might get better – I’m always so hopeful. By the time I walked down about a quarter of the strip I was taking bathroom breaks leaning up against the wall with my head in my hands as if I had just run a marathon. Fucking bathroom breaks, I’ve never been so happy to sit alone in my life! I gave up and took my sexy pimp walk through the maze of MGM and finally found the tram which got me as close to the hotel as I could get. Still it required a fair amount of walking. I was so eager to make it back I didn’t look for many places to sit and rest. Besides, when I’m at the point sitting will often make it worse when I stand back up. When I finally hobbled back inside the room I just crawled under my covers and stayed there. Then the next morning I had breakfast with my sweetheart and went right back to sleep. I didn’t do anything until 2pm when I finally started to feel better. Holy fatigue batman! It’s like you’re coming down with a flu but the aches are burning waves on your joints. So, first lesson: traveling is hard on my body and I need to rest like a 20 something after a tequila night.

Second lesson: I didn’t realize this until after I came home but my confidence is pretty rattled by all of this restriction and pain. I also may have been a little lonely and felt ugly and old. I know it’s not kind but that’s the kind of self talk that just creeps in when I’m being attacked by this disease. When I did finally make it out of the room I went in search of an open pool hoping to get a few rays of sun. I found the sun, a cushy chair and a great blog to read more about RA because lesson 3: even 3.5 years in I still have so many questions and so much to learn. 

I think I got a good hour of sun therapy and boy does it make a huge difference being outside in the sunshine doing what “normal” people do while I recover. Lesson 4: I need to feel included in normal everyday life and the more creative I can get about modifications so that I can participate more or less pain free the less lonely I feel.

Finally I did a little contrast therapy using the pool and hot tub. I promised myself that if I felt good after that I would treat myself to the gym (and yes, I consider that a treat). The hot tub was pretty empty except for two guys that were quietly enjoying it. One was sitting with his eyes closed and the other was stretching. I decided to ask the guy stretching if he knew where the gym was because I didn’t want to do anymore wandering. We got to talking and I found out pretty quickly he suffers from chronic pain because of a serious car accident and he found out pretty quickly that I had RA, a husband and a kid. When I told him I was off to do some yoga he asked to come with and I was happy for the company. Meeting a friend did wonders for my sense of belonging and because he understood limitations and chronic pain, it made an even bigger impact on my mood. Which brings me to lesson 5: reach out and share more then just the average exchanges. I’ve known this for a while and I’ve been working on it for a while but sharing isn’t an instinct of mine. I often assume people will not be interested in what I have to share or in the case of my disease they will feel too uncomfortable by it. I’m slowly convincing myself it’s well worth it to take that risk and just bore the socks off of someone or make them just a touch uncomfortable.

On the last day of my stay I made a miscalculation. I packed up my carry on with my heavy laptop and took it all around with me. I got down the length of a hallway when I noticed the pain returning and I was filled with a sense of doom. I thought I would just find a comfortable seat and stay there for a while but there weren’t any comfortable seats to be found. Except, at the very last hour, I saw a great cushioned area but couldn’t stop because I had to go meet my man. Lesson number 6: just ask someone for what your looking for or need. God, that’s hard for me! I am often too embarrassed or too proud or too darn consumed with figuring it out of my own to slow my roll and think of another option. It’s like I need to set a reminder on my phone every 10 minutes that says “just ask!”

In honor of the wisdom brought to me by Vegas and it’s smoky, flashing, over stimulating sound pumping world I give you this picture of an owl. May this symbol of wisdom help to remind me of how to treat myself when things get rough so that I feel comfortable to nestle down in my own fluffy feathers until I’m good and ready to fly again.

 

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