The Sting of Good Intentions

As with any disease, RA can be frustrating. A general work day for me consists of sitting at my desk. The consequences of this for RA means stiffness, ankle swelling, feet swelling, hip pain, etc. etc. The more you sit still, often it makes the stiffness and pain of RA an even bigger problem.

On the flip-side, exercising can be tricky. RA has fun traveling around the body, making parts swell unexpectedly. Everything from severe sharp pains, to a dull ache, to something in between can be a regular day for anyone with RA. But because it varies from person to person, from day to day and from minute to minute, there’s just no telling. Complaining isn’t something I normally do because at least I wasn’t affected with RA until I was 30. The reality is, RA can affect babies, and the result of that can even lead to blindness….but that’s a whole other topic. Sorry to be a downer but reality bites, and to not know that RA can affect children isn’t right. Knowledge is power, because with knowledge, at least then, we can work on solutions. But anyway, back to my story.

So my intention today was simply to get some exercise. It is my daily goal to exercise, even though I might not fulfill it. I took my normal long walk on a beautiful late sunny afternoon down a gorgeous street where homes leave me feeling breathless.  I like to daydream that one day I’ll be living in a beautiful house rather than my one bedroom apartment. My right foot was bothering me again as it has these past couple of days. Rather than babying it, which could lead to more stiffness or better recovery, it’s too hard to say, I decided walking was the answer. My body needed circulation, I needed the sunshine and the breeze, along with the spiritual feeling that I get on these types of walks. Only today I was limping. Limping I did, trying to take the pressure off my right foot, but flexing nonetheless, hoping this could help the stiffness and ease the swelling. I pushed through, even though over time it got worse. My walk is about four miles I’m guessing, but I really don’t know. I hit my two mile spot and turned around. I was catching up on my Sunday calls when suddenly I felt a sharp sting on my left foot.

Thinking it was nothing but a shrub or stick briefly poking me, I think I ignored it for half a second, concentrating on conversation. But when the piercing sting kept on, I heard myself say out loud, “Ow! OW! OW!” I looked down and saw a yellow hornet furiously stinging my left ankle. I brushed it off with a heavy hand, since that’s what it took to get it off of me.

“Dang it,” I said. “A hornet just bit me!”

My friend asked, “Are you ok?”

I said, “yes but I’ve never been bitten by one. Hopefully my reaction to it will be fine.”

“Do you need to call someone?” she asked.

I said, “No, there’s no one I can call.”

She said, “Well I hope you aren’t too far from home.”

I said, “Oh a ways, but hopefully I’ll be fine.”

We continued on our conversation and I ignored the throbbing sting. I was somewhat surprised at how easy it was to ignore the constant stinging where the hornet had stung me over and over. I would have preferred it sting my right foot, that way I could limp more easily. Now both feet hurt to walk. I took off my left shoe because the stings were right at the edge of my shoe and it was rubbing. Then I sort of hobbled home, putting more pressure on my left foot than right because my right foot was killing me and stepping on my left wasn’t making the stinging pain better or worse.

When I got to my apartment complex, I had a long talk with a neighbor who’s suffering from psoriatic arthritis. She’s had psoriatic arthritis for less than a year but she has two fingers that are permanently disfigured due to inflammation shortening the tendons. She asked about my foot, since I was carrying my shoe. I told her the story and said I wished it had been the other foot, but that I was fine.  Her fingers gave me another good reality check, that my situation wasn’t all that bad, even though honestly, I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, just annoyed that my right foot was hurting more than the hornet sting.

That evening, I tried to relax over dinner and tv. My husband was coming home from a friend’s house. The surprise was that the hornet stings barely bugged me. (Pun intentional) Sure it hurt and wasn’t fun, but compared to RA, it was nothing. So I just wanted to say that if you’ve ever wondered what hurst more, a sting from a f lying insect or RA, my vote is RA. I’ll take a sting any day, or every day if RA would just go away.

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