Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Losses: 2, part II

Christmas and New Year's gifted me with increasing pain and fatigue. It was  my first Christmas away from my family with my mother-in-law and her husband in rural Virginia. The drive south was treacherous, even for northerners. We wound through mountains at 2:00 AM navigating an ice storm in a tiny Ford sedan. I would doze off, trying to ignore the screaming pain in my knees, jolting awake as we slid through switchback after switchback. The edge of the narrow road loomed over a pit of black, white trails of snow blasted ghostlike across the car's face. I was terrified of the incline, the jolting wind, of being lost to the dark, victims of the storm. We were going to die.

Of course, we didn't.

As the Ice Road Trucker ride ended, I stopped hyperventilating. I slept for hours. I slept in the bed, on the couch, in the car on short trips into town. One evening, from a snuggly nap fog, I overhead my husband talking to his step-father "no, she doesn't have a blood disorder."

This visit marked the first time I needed help moving from a sitting position. It was an eye-opener due to the fact I was in the bathroom at the time. I grabbed a near towel bar and pulled, immediately ripping it off the wall. I wouldn't have been able to stand without it; but my embarrassment at abusing my mother-in-law's lovely new home pushed that darker thought to the side. I yanked my pants up and emerged from the bathroom, giant metal pole in hand, "Ummm...I trashed your bathroom....sorry, it's a compulsion. It'll be the shower curtain tomorrow."

Days ticked away. It was my birthday,  Epiphany. Epiphany is a Christian festival that marks the visit of the magi to Christ. The word epiphany can also mean the appearance of god, or a sudden realization, an intuitive leap. In the bleak midwinter on my 32nd birthday, those little flashes of insight over the last few months assembled themselves into the makings of a vast puzzle inscribed on my DNA and exposed in my blood. Happy birthday. You have rheumatoid arthritis.

The nurse's dry voice said "your RH factor is elevated, your CCP is over 150 and I shouldn't even be telling you this right now, but you have the marker for ankylosing spondylitis-HLA-B27...wah wah wah WAH WAH..."I got the phone call at work. I tried to write down on a sticky note what the nurse was saying. It didn't make any sense to me. My knees were swollen like balloons, and it felt like the world should have stopped, paused at that moment. It didn't. there was no silence, no moment of solitude to mull over what had just happened. There I was trying to make sense of my world on a scratchy little sticky note.


  1. "This visit marked the first time I realized I needed help moving from a sitting position. I grabbed a towel bar in the bathroom to stand, and the thing ripped out of the wall. I wouldn't have been able to stand without it, but my embarrassment at trashing my mother-in-law's house pushed that darker thought to the side. I emerged from the bathroom, giant piece of metal in hand, "Ummm I trashed your bathroom. Sorry, it's a compulsion. It'll be the shower curtain tomorrow."

    This made me laugh aloud in the middle of a solemn post; how funny! I feel for you, sunshine! Love your writing - keep it up! XOX

  2. I was laughing too Ms. O...on the inside. : )

  3. Ugh, inflammatory arthritis can be such a bitch. My husband has to help me out of bed sometimes. Occasionally at work, I bend down to talk to someone and then have a hell of a time getting up off my knees!

  4. I hear you Melissa! I can't get down to look at the dust bunnies under my bed!