Monday, July 30, 2007

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some days it's a big part of how I define myself. Other days I forget all about it. Today's one of the former, I guess. A little background...I was always mildly athletic growing up. When I was 24, I developed all the symptoms of RA but decided that the reason I couldn't walk right was because I had stopped doing anything resembling working out. So, I woke up early and went for a walk (or, rather, a hobble). It didn't help, and I couldn't use my "It's just that I'm not in shape" excuse when I couldn't open the tube of toothpaste in the morning (no one needs to be in shape to do that!). At any rate, I have it, it's nothing new in my family so I thought I knew what I was in for and was, of course, scared. But I got on some better meds, felt OK enough (and pissed off enough) to run a marathon for the Arthritis Foundation, and generally went on with my life.

Fast forward to last spring, with my wedding coming up and a desire to look GOOD in the pictures! My fiance came home one day and said "I found the perfect trainer for you." A truer statement he has never made. Despite my thinking that my wrists were too far gone to allow me do push ups or to build much upper arm strength, I dutifully did everything Bea told me to do, and then some, and sort of transformed myself. Not just my body, but more on that later. Last year, with her help and ass-kicking, I ran a 10k, a half-marathon, a 20k, and 2 marathons (the first I totally surprised myself with, unexpectedly ALMOST breaking 4 hours, just 46 seconds too slow...if only I had known it was possible!), plus doing a triathlon and discovering cycling (what I credit for much of my cardiovascular fitness, in part because it's just so much FUN).

My point...I have RA. I actually am pretty darn athletic. I lift weights, cycle, run, swim. But sometimes I can't. My RA is mostly limited to my wrists, though occasionally some toes flare up and freak me out. There are probably one or two days a week when I really NOTICE them, when they hurt and I really can't do push ups, or bicep curls, or anything that strains the joint too much. I had an MRI in March on the right wrist. The doctor, who incidentally told me I shouldn't be lifting weights with my wrists (I dropped the subject after hearing that, taking a don't ask don't tell approach), wants to perform a surgery where, near as I can figure, he would peel back a layer of tissue that goes across my wrist above the tendons, and thread that tissue underneath the tendons to protect them from the inflammation that won't go away. While the idea of protecting my tendons (which, if they rupture, will leave me S.O.L. in terms of any normal wrist function) is great, the whole thing just seems strange. Supposedly, I will not lose strength or function in the wrist because of the surgery (I guess I will need to revisit that conversation and make sure he knows I expect to be able to lift and cycle even after the surgery).

My point...clearly I am not sure what it is...I've been scouring the internet for info on this surgery to no avail. Or if I find something it always assumes the patient is content to be sendentary so who cares how well the wrist functions in the aftermath? At any rate, I'm curious...and so eager to find other people in my situation. RA, other "diseases," people who've just said "fuck you" to accepting other people's limitations on their lives. So...