Will it always be my nemesis? I’ve always thought of it that way to a certain degree. I’ve never looked at it as my friend, or my ally. It was always the source of my problems. I was always too fat, too ugly, I had too much hair on my arms, too much hair on my face, I had bad skin, I had bad eyesight, you name it. To get rid of the bad skin I took antibiotics for a few years when I was a teenager. My skin is better, but now I have grey teeth that no whitening process will fix. I still strip the hair off my face on a regular basis. Being without tweezers for more than 24 hours will send me into a panic state. Sometimes I still bleach the hair on my arms, but I’ve learned to not care about it as much. I’m still fat, and I’ve basically resigned myself to it. If I want to NOT BE FAT, the amount of energy I must expend is completely life-consuming and I have no room in my head or my life for anything but NOT BEING FAT. And I hate that. So I’ve more or less set that aside as a goal I can reasonably attain.
Then I got Crohn’s Disease. Actually, I probably had it for a long time, but then it became something that could no longer be ignored. The idea of “autoimmune” diseases is fascinating to me — when the body turns on itself. Knowing my lifelong attitude towards my body, it doesn’t really surprise me that this is the road I’ve gone down. Not that I believe my brain and my attitude are solely responsible for my condition, I’m sure there are other physical things at work here, and/or environmental factors. I don’t buy the power of positive thinking as the only way to true healing. That’s bullshit. But I’m sure it would help if I had some.
The Crohn’s has been under control for almost two years, and I’ve been feeling really good as far as that goes.
But now my joints are hurting. I’m 44 years old, so I’ve had the random ache and pain that comes from being middle-aged, but this is different. Elbows, shoulders, knees, finger joints all hurting at the same time in various combinations. Some joints have been swollen, and I have tingly feelings in one of my pinky fingers. A visit to the doctor was kind of inconclusive (of course). Blood tests were indicative of Rheumatoid Arthritis — but I’m not experiencing all the symptoms that usually come with it. Sometimes this kind of joint pain can be related to Crohn’s, but is that what this is? I don’t know. As part of my Crohn’s regimen I take a Humira injection every other week, which is also often prescribed for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clearly it’s not helping me in that respect.
I took a week-long round of steroids and the pain lessened. But now I’m off the steroids and it’s back again. I have an appointment with my gastroenterologist in a couple weeks, and I’m in the process of getting a referral to a rheumatologist.
In the meantime, I feel like someone dragged me around by my arms. It’s kind of like that feeling when you have the flu, like you got hit by a bus —- everything hurts and all you want to do is sleep. Getting dressed hurts. If I push a button the wrong way, or grab something too tightly my fingers protest strongly. If I’ve been sitting for awhile, when I get up I creak around like an old lady for a few minutes until I walk out the stiffness in my knees. Because of the Crohn’s, my GI doctor doesn’t want me to take Advil or Aleve. So my OTC painkiller of choice is Tylenol for Arthritis Pain, which is about as powerful as not taking anything. At least I can still type.
Without really knowing what this is, I’m trying to avoid my worst-case-scenario speculations, and being reasonably successful I think. But if this is another case of my body attacking itself, what do I do with that? What is happening inside me that my own body wants to cripple itself, if not one way, then another?
(This post is not a solicitation for medical advice. I’ll delete any comments that offer it.)