Morning Olympics (part 1) starring Chronic Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Today I awakened with things I knew I had to get done..had to. I was laying in bed saying to myself, “I must get this, this, and this accomplished today. That one thing has a deadline so I have to get it done! I need to make that phone call, text that person to change my appointment next week, and I need to dust my bedroom badly.”

I did my laying down stretches, repeating each one several times. Hands clenched into a fist, stretch fingers as far as they will go, relax. Wiggle fingers like I’m playing piano, relax. Flex wrists in a circular motion, listening to them crack, trying not to cry at the burning pain that results, relax. Same for my elbows. It burns so much!

Point my toes up and then down, as far as they will go. Move feet in a circular motion, listen to those cracking noises. Bend knees and point to the left to stretch my lower back and hips, repeat on the right. Rest for a moment to slow down my erratic breathing to get ready for the next chunk of torture.

Now for my upright stretches. First I have to roll onto my right side and, somehow, get my right arm under my torso to try and lift up from the bed. Some days I can do it the first time, other days I have to try, rest a moment, try again, perhaps rest once more, and maybe by the next try I am able to push myself into a sitting position.

After I am finally able to sit upright I bend over to try grabbing my toes for another stretch. Some days this happens, other days it doesn’t. Either way I stretch as far as I can in that direction a few times. I lift my arms over my head (well, my right arm, left my shoulder doesn’t like moving that way anymore). Getting them all the way up the first time never happens, this morning I have to try  a few times. My right arm finally goes up. My left arm gets about head high and then stops. Stupid left shoulder.

Then comes the circular arm swings, trying to touch my elbows behind my back without crying (stupid scoliosis), and twisting my torso to the left and right to loosen up my lower back.

I can only imagine what I sound like through my closed bedroom door. A great ape grunting? A rhinocerous warning others to stay away? Cats mating? A person in pain trying to get her body stretched to the point of actually being able to move?

Only after all of this is done do I place my feet on the floor and try to stand up. Right hand on the night stand, left hand on my left knee, and push. Most days I can do this in one try, this morning isn’t that type of morning. I fall back onto my bed while I’m muttering under my breath, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this…” I try again and I am upright, reaching as hard as possible for the next available solid thing, my chest of drawers. I put my hand on the top and finish pulling myself fully straight.

Good, I’m finally standing.

I hate this. When I think of what I used to be able to do… Jumping out of bed in the morning ready to meet the day, cleaning house, running errands, wearing cute shoes instead of comfy clothes, hanging around with friends…


I stand there for a moment willing the pain to go away, for my breathing to calm down,  and for a headache not to join in on the fun, before I start lurching towards the bathroom.

By lurching I mean a slow, painful shuffle. My toes, left ankle, right knee, right hip, upper and lower back, neck, shoulders, elbows, and hands are all trying to burn me with their complaints at the same time. Mixed in with some grunting, heavy breathing, and leaning on everything I can, hoping I don’t stub a toe because I forgot to put on my slippers.

By this point I will be able to tell if this is an “oops, I need to use my cane – but I left it in my bedroom – should I go back to get it or not, since I’m already halfway to the bathroom?” kind of day.

Needing a cane depends on, well, I haven’t yet figured out what causes my legs to not work right on any given day. But I know I’ll need my cane if things are overly painful, my knees or ankles are weak or wobbly, and if I’m having balance problems or not able to stand fully upright.

Yeah…balance problems. Due to the pain in my lower body. I have become close friends with countertops, door jambs, furniture, and walls. I’d have a clear path walking a certain direction when, BOOM, I’d personally meet at least one of these solid objects in a very chummy way. I swear to you they move when I’m not looking! (And, if you listen very carefully, you can almost hear them taking bets on who’s going to take me on next.)

It’s really not good if I have to get to the bathroom the moment I awaken…I won’t go into details.

Now, what was it that I had to do today? Aw, (insert cussword here), I can’t remember.

Ain’t this fun!







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