The Blame Game

From experience when it comes to having RA, it’s easy to play the blame game when a flare happens.  You ask, “what caused this?”   And if it’s not you asking the questions, then perhaps it’s your spouse, your family member or your co-worker.  Most of the time,  you don’t know the answer of what causes a flare.  If you did, you’d stay away from it.  You’d stop talking to your mother if that meant you’d never have RA again.  And sometimes you have a pretty good suspicion of what just threw your body into wicked pain and disability.

I was already feeling run down but I had to make it to a 40th birthday party.  It was important,  I couldn’t miss it.  If I could do it all over again, I’d still have gone but I would definitely change a few things.

I was human.  I made typical mistakes.  I pushed myself too hard.  I drank too much,  I danced too much.  I got too little sleep.  I ate all the wrong foods the next day:  soup with noodles, bread and then pizza.  It was all to calm down the acids in my stomach, quiet the nausea I had and the dizziness from drinking WAY too much and also comfort myself because I felt so ill.  My pounding head was keeping me from thinking any rational thoughts anyway.  I’m sure my headache wasn’t just from the hangover.  It had been hurting for days before I made it official.  My RA wasn’t bothering me (yet) probably because alcohol thins the blood.  The funny thing is, I had been avoiding alcohol for quite some time.  So when the party came, I decided to give in a little.  And you know, once your inhibitions are down, this is when your choices can really go out the window.  In the late evening when I reached for another cocktail rather than water, that’s when things became tipsy-turvy.  And when that sweet drink went down and I was STILL thirsty, I reached for one more.  Of course at this point, I was too buzzed to talk myself out of it.  I could still stand.  What was the harm in one more drink?  Actually, my mind didn’t even go there.  I just thought, “I’m thirsty……got liquid?”

If only the hangover could happen right then, so you can stop the drinking.  Instead, you just feel great and numb to any rational.  I didn’t drive home of course, but as a passenger, I felt like hanging my head out of the window like a dog.  Of course, it would have been for relief, not for enjoyment and yes, my tongue would have been sticking out.  To make matters worse, I’m one of those people that actually holds everything in, no matter how sick I am, poisoning my body far worse than most.  Most people share in the ritualistic experience of expelling the poisons.  I on the other hand, could probably swallow hydrogen peroxide and keep it down.

That was Saturday.

Sunday was spent nursing my hangover.

When Monday came around I was in a horrific flare.  I knew it was everything that I had done wrong:  too little sleep, all the wrong food, coupled with all the sugar from the alcohol and did I mention, alcohol is a poison?  Oh yeah, you know that already.  Bread, pasta, everything I ate that day was inflammatory, at least, according to my reading it is (current pick is “The Inflammation Free Diet Plan”).  And here in lies the blame game.

So yes, that morning when I got up to go to work and my stiff neck, rocks under my feet and wrists that felt like they were in a torture device trying to pull them apart, were all slowing me down and keeping me from getting to work on time, I played the blame game.  I blamed myself for making wrong decisions that night and the next day.  I blamed myself for the sleepless nights on the weeks before the party that made me run down.  I blamed myself for all the exercise I skipped for a couple of weeks because I simply felt tired and lazy.  I blamed myself for all the supplements I forgot to take.  And I went into work feeling angry and frustrated for all the things I’m suppose to avoid and all the things I’m suppose to do to quiet my condition.  And I felt embarrassed that maybe I could have avoided this.  There was no skip in my step, no ambitious agendas ahead of me.  It’s not enough to have RA, you’re also suppose to be great at eating all the right foods, getting good sleep, living a stress free life and getting exercise, haven’t you heard?  It’s tiring avoiding things and trying to stay on the straight and narrow.  It’s tiring taking supplements.  It’s tiring just knowing that there’s never a real break from any of it.  And yes, I still have yet to try Yoga.

I’m still in a flare but at least I can turn the steering wheel now without wincing (as much) and without the staccato jerky turn only a person who probably shouldn’t be driving might do.  At least I can view my computer screen again without the blurry vision that accompanies me when I’m in a really bad flare.  And at least I can finally put my arms to my sides without feeling like my wrists are being pulled off.  And in no way does this flare compare to ones of the past where the pain and disability made me crazy.

I’m still tired however, hoping things will somehow change, hoping one day I’ll reach remission.  I think I’m learning, slowly but surely. ……….. Oh hey, will you pass that bread?  ……..but I will probably never be perfect.  After all, I am human.

4 Responses

  1. Wren,

    Thanks so much for your comments! I always appreciate your insights and stories. Self control has never been one of my things, but you’re right, it’s not really anyone’s or most I should say and yet we’re still able to succeed like you said in not letting it all get way out of control. Mindfully living….I like that phrase. You’re right–it never is enough. And yet going the opposite direction makes it bad enough that you can’t allow yourself to be too crazy and eat junk all the time. Over the years I’ve gotten better at mindfully living, but I haven’t gone vegetarian or started juicing or anything like that….perhaps though one day!
    Thanks again Wren, I appreciate your friendship. Anyone is lucky to know you!
    many hugs,

  2. Hi Cheryl,

    I guess everyone is different…. I had been sober for months and then drank a maddening amount. I’m sure that didn’t help. ;) Other than that, before when I used to drink a little on weekends, I don’t remember the days after being any worse from the LDN. Could be just me though.
    many hugs,

  3. Hi Sarah,
    I’m starting LDN for systemic sarcoidosis after I give birth next month. I have read that LDN can make hangovers absolute hell. Some won’t drink on it.

    No doubt you’re in a flare but maybe the LDN contributed to the awful hangover. Just a thought :)

  4. “It’s not enough to have RA, you’re also suppose to be great at eating all the right foods, getting good sleep, living a stress free life and getting exercise, haven’t you heard?”

    Oh, do I get this one, Sarah. It’s extremely difficult to live “perfectly” all the time, trying to do all you can to appease the RA dragon. The trouble is that a good deal of the time, “all you can do” isn’t enough. It simply doesn’t work. And then it’s much easier to go ahead and have those yummy cocktails, eat foods that we know very well might make things worse (or at the very least, cause us to gain unwanted pounds), all so that for a while we can be normal. Just like everyone else. Pizza? Sure, why not?

    So we’re human. In that, we’re just like everyone else, too. Entirely normal. And entirely fallible.

    It’s a good thing that simply going back to living mindfully is always an option. Without it, I know I’d probably weigh 300 pounds, be diabetic and be far more disabled by pain than I am. I’d be confined by my body and depressed as hell. But I’m none of those things because, even though I’m human and fail regularly to do everything I should, perfectly, I just keep on trying.

    And so do you. I’m glad you’re now past the hangover (oh, ugh those are narsty!) and that the flare that resulted from overindulgence is easing. And I hope that you’ll be feeling much, much better soon. Thanks for this post. As usual, it’s well-written, thoughtful, empathetic and thought-provoking.

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