The RA Rollercoaster

I’m a huge fan of rollercoasters.  My first “big” one was the Gemini at Cedar Point, which I tackled at age 8.  I was immediately addicted to the whole experience: pre-ride anticipation and fear of the unknown, alternating sensations of queasiness and exhilaration while on the track, and afterward, the pure adrenaline rush and that “veni ,vidi, vici” feeling.

Life with RA feels a lot like that.  Last Wednesday, I got my infusion after a two-week delay (a story for another post).  Finally, on Thursday morning, there was a sliver of light at the end of my flare tunnel.  After living with so much pain, I was ecstatic just to engage more fully in everyday life.  I was finally stepping out of the fear and queasiness of the ride, and into the exhilaration.

With tolerable pain levels and a bolstered mood, I spent the weekend enjoying both my productivity and downtime.  I grocery shopped, cooked, did laundry, shuttled Bear to practices, baked a birthday cake, spent a few hours at Disney, and enjoyed a meal with wonderful friends from Michigan.  Nothing too taxing or crazy – just a lovely and normal weekend.  (Okay, I know Disney isn’t “normal” for most, but I’m blessed to be an annual passholder that lives an hour away.) Overall, I suspect these activities sound similar to those that filled your weekend.

Last night, the RA rollercoaster track took an unwelcome turn, as my pain returned.  Over the last few days, I consciously tried to balance my activity with rest, but it wasn’t enough.  The physical pain is tough, but the emotional pain can be even tougher.  This morning, I find myself sad and frustrated that my body responded to “everyday life” as it did, and afraid that I may never break the cycle.

Since this disease is chronic, it’s easy (yet dangerous) to think of RA as a neverending rollercoaster.  If we do, we miss out on the end — the adrenaline rush of life.  Instead, I’m choosing to treat each day as a new ride, balancing my constant fear of the unknown with things I can cheer and conquer.  When I was in high school, my friend Paula and I rode the Gemini 23 times in a row.  Thirteen months past diagnosis, I’ve shattered my own consecutive ride record. I’m competitive, to be sure, but RA is one rollercoaster I’d much rather get off for good.

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2 thoughts on “The RA Rollercoaster

  1. peg hooper says:

    Hey Sweetie,
    Sorry you are feeling so bad, would you like me come down and spend a few days and help with stuff around the house, etc…. I would be more than happy to do that, plus I would love to see you and Sean. Let me know. Aunt Peg

  2. trish says:

    Jessica, thank you for taking the time to blog… I really look forward to reading what you write with each post. Your writing is wonderful, and you are going to comfort so many RAers out there …..for me, it couldn’t be more timely, this is EXACTLY how I feel today too. I also find myself so excited when I get to have a ‘normal’ weekend with my family and they get to see me feeling ‘normal’ as well…I cherish those days, and I find that I am slowlybeginning to adjust to the unpredictable nature of how each day might be and having to adjust my schedule. I am only 6 months in so you have a head start with learning to live with this ride 😉 I am not sure that those without something like this understand what it REALLY means to have to budget your time and energy so carefully. It certainly makes you appreciate the good days!
    I did have a ‘good’ weekend, and I am more than a little annoyed that I am feeling much more pain and aches today, especially since it the first time in months its been in the upper 60’s. All I want to do is get outside and work in the yard… but it will have to wait for another ‘normal’ day. It truly is a roller coaster with unforeseen twists and turns….. and like you, I would really like to get off! 🙂

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