See, if you know me, and at this point the only people reading this do, you probably don't know that there are days I can't walk without a cane. That I can go from a mild cold to sinus infection to pneumonia in literally less than a week. That at the end of each sentence I typed three days ago, I rubbed my fingers together in exquisite agony to scratch the endless itching that no amount of allergy medications or hydrocortisone cream can ease. And I'm just thankful that this flare up is only in my hands and not in my feet. This time.
I have an autoimmune disease.
Couldn't help myself...
My immune system, for some unknown reason it has not seen fit to share with me, attacks my own body.
And at this stage in my life, it's more of a nuisance than something to get all up in arms about. Which is good, because there are days I can't lift my arms. That's a little dramatic. It's also a true statement, but one that thankfully doesn't occur all the time. As I get older, I will lose my range of motion and my ability to do certain things for myself as my immune system attacks everything from skin to joints. On a good day, I can't open a sealed jar of say applesauce or pickles on my own. Two days ago, I couldn't make myself a can of soup, open a package of crackers or hold a cup without using two hands. In the end, my hands swelled to almost three times their normal size, skin along my arms, chest and face became fragile and large red blotches came and went - and all that was before the pain set in. All that stuff other stuff is just to let me know that crippling pain is on the way.
Because my immune system attacks itself (with exceptional joie de vivre) I generally have a hell of a time not having a cold, the flu, an allergy attack, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma attacks, sinus infections, etc. I cannot begin to tally up the number of times I've heard in my life, "You're sick again?!" Yes. I am. Again. It's thrilling. A laugh a minute. The taste of copper as I cough, the vice threatening to push my brain out of my skull from sinus pressure, breathing through my mouth like I eat paint chips for giggles, not being able to catch my breath, my poor stuffy/runny/cracked nose. My monthly and quarterly sinus infections are down to yearly or less. But this year, flu shot be damned, I got sick mid-flare. Lotion tissues & congestion meds, stat!
People I think, tend to focus on the extremes. For attention. To keep interest. So I want to be sure to point out that the stupid pain, the swelling extremities, the sinus infections, they aren't an every day thing. It's frustrating to be sick, in any capacity, but aside from the past four or five days (and yeah, the stomach bug bout I had a few weeks ago which may have been the trigger or may have been an early warning of this flare) my autoimmune stuff (technical term) seems to be under control. I haven't had a flare this intense in several years. So I'm tired. A lot. So I drop things. A lot. I'm still here. I woke up. I felt better today and I'll feel even better tomorrow. There are some days when I have more limits than other days, and that's an internal struggle not an indication of my worth as a person.
The swelling in my hands is almost completely gone. The heat remains, as does just a bit of mild pain. Compression gloves, ice packs and targeted medication are wonderful things. Various bones and joints in my body randomly feel as though someone reached into me and is pulling my bones apart from the inside. Weird, but it's the best way I can describe it. It's like a sharp ache from time to time. I'm sniffly and snuffly, but I was able to breathe through my nose most of today and I'm still on my first box of tissues.
So chances are if I simply say 'I'm sick', there's some weird thing that's gone haywire that takes six paragraphs to kind of explain. And also, it's not code for loafing at home, eating candy and binge watching four seasons of a show. It does probably mean I've probably got a few movies cued up to watch/listen to while I nod off periodically or zone out in a zombie-like haze.
Two points if you can guess what one of those movies has been been this week.