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.

Kathlene Turner: From Turning Heads to Turning Her Life Upside Down

Kathleen Turner and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Kathleen Turner and Rheumatoid Arthritis

We know her as a sexual siren who inspired us by her beauty, intellect and charm from “Romancing the Stone”.  And she scared the wits out of us in “War of the Roses”.  For those not following her career, she pretty much dropped out of the lime light for a lengthy period of time. What happened?

She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis!!

Here’s a little snip it of life for Kathleen during that time:

In my mid-40s, I reached the jolting realization – after decades of assuming I was fertile – that I couldn’t get pregnant again. We went to see infertility specialists to ask about in-vitro fertilisation, but they told me my eggs were probably no longer viable.

Next, we considered using a younger woman’s eggs and Jay’s sperm. However, we would probably have had to use a surrogate mother – and that made me feel incredibly left out. In the end, the obstacles seemed insurmountable, but that didn’t make the fact that I couldn’t have another child any less devastating. For a time, I felt as if I wasn’t a woman any more.

While all this was going on, I had also discovered I was suffering from a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, which was a complete and total nightmare.

I’d always felt I could do almost anything that required physical strength and skill. I took pride in doing my own stunts. And suddenly all of this was stripped away and my body could respond only with excruciating pain whenever I tried to move it.

My joints swelled up so badly that I could hardly walk. Some days I was in so much agony I couldn’t even climb out of bed. Jay was very, very supportive. He must have been terribly fed up with my problems, though. The greatest shock to me was how I lost belief in my own attractiveness, my own desirability, everything.

With my loss of confidence went a loss of sexuality. That’s a strain on a marriage, a strain that is multilayered.

My condition made sex difficult because, physically, everything hurt so badly that it was so hard to feel sexy, hard for me to be a good partner, hard to be intimate. There was no position that didn’t hurt like hell.

When my pain from the illness was at its worst, I discovered that vodka killed it quite wonderfully. I didn’t want to take painkillers because I didn’t like the way they mucked up my mind, so I used alcohol instead. Stupidly, I didn’t consider that alcohol mucks up your mind, too.

The drinking fed a self-destructive spiral. Like the drugs I was taking for the arthritis, alcohol was a depressant – and when I took them in combination, their depressive effects multiplied. I started to question whether life was really worth living.-Daily Mail

Kathleen Turner is now back in the lime light and spending much of her energy on Broadway.  She’s also written a book about love and life with Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as her career as a Hollywood star.

Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner

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