Victory. Frankly, I think it's a hyperbolic word that's used too casually with diminished meaning in American vernacular. But I respect that it has personal meaning beyond judgment of others, so cheers to anyone who has conquered any obstacle that once seemed daunting. Recently a campaign called Everyday RA Victories was launched to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation, and I think it's a terrific, eye-opening effort. RA patients and their family members and friends can submit tasks of triumph, and as the tagline states, "Large or small, every victory counts." Each submission sends $1 to the Arthritis Foundation (up to $30,000), but I think the awareness that is raised is just as valuable as the funds. Personally, I get a little inspired and validated whenever I take the time to visit the page; it helps me to appreciate the things I'm able to do easily, and offers a little solidarity when I get frustrated by chores that are difficult.
A few weeks post-op, I'm healing well and glad it's over. So to celebrate and give myself a public pat on the back I'm going to share some of my own recent victories:
1. Actually going through with the surgery and not running out the door. Took three doses of versed in the pre-op area, though, and instructions to the anesthesiologist to go heavy on the meds. I'm pretty sure everyone that dealt with me that morning thought I was off my rocker.
2. Spin class four days post op. Here's a grainy pic of a sweaty version of me after class. Yes, that cast got pretty smelly and gross, especially since I hit the gym almost every day since that first outing.
3. Stairmaster x 4 post op, despite these damn achy knees. I decided I cannot let them get worse, and as going up and down the stairs is starting to get difficult again I am determined to make myself face that challenge head-on. It's not easy, but my thinking is the counter-balance of my two legs kind of mimics that motion without the same amount of stress. I worked my way up to this:
4. After I was done on the Stairmaster that day, I did this:
5. Not cutting off the soft cast myself before my follow-up appointment. I was dangerously close a couple of times, but to be honest, I probably wouldn't have been able to use the scissors anyway (insert RA joke HERE).
6. Taking the methotrexate and not dumping the entire bottle down the toilet like I was tempted to do...for this week at least.
7. Not needing an emergency Coke to ward off the mtx nausea last week. Hoping for the same for tomorrow.
8. And my favorite: My first run in over two months, the morning after the cast came off. Only two miles (I was being conservative), but I had the best company any mom could ever want: my daughter.
I was super proud of her. She's only 7, but she ran the whole way. I've gone running, 2 miles at a time because the wrist can't handle much more than that right now, a total of three times. It's so good to be doing it again. My knees bug me while I'm running, but I can either sit still while they hurt or I can do something I enjoy while they hurt. It's a no-brainer.
Next challenge: actually going to my next rheum appointment in mid-July. I don't want to go; I never do. I don't want to talk about all the stuff I know I have to, I don't want to admit what hurts, and I'm worried about getting more confused than I already am. I will though, and it was a recent experience that will get me there: thanks to the post-op percocet script, I was able to enjoy several nights free of all pain. No achy knees or elbows, no throbbing wrists, no wretched pain in my hands. Nothing. Sadly, I forgot what that feels like, and it made the crappy morning stiffness seem more pronounced. I recently read an article in one of the arthritis magazines in which a NYC rheumatologist mentioned that the biggest disservice RA patients tend to do to themselves is to downplay their symptoms. His point was that nowadays there's such an array of meds that can help improve quality of life and modify disease progression that there is no reason for us to suffer in silence. (Yes, I know that there are many patients not getting relief from traditional DMARDs and/or biologics, but I think that's worthy of its own post. And yes, I also know that there are those who were able to achieve remission through diet alone. Big high five to those patients, and that's worthy of its own post too.) I'm guilty as charged. I've done everything that I've been told to do, but I'll admit that I haven't always told the whole story and I tend to present things in such a way that I hope will get me off all this medicine. So, I will (maybe) go and I will be more honest with her (gonna give it my best shot) and I will try to be more open to treatment options that I may not want (OK, this is not realistically going to happen), even if that includes going back on Enbrel (Hell has a better chance of freezing over).
Thanks for reading!