Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Losses: 2

Say good morning to your new life.
This story can't be told quickly. It isn't defined in a flash like my miscarriage. This was longer, a trial of endurance. It started as my miscarriage ended. I woke up bathed in sunshine, on vacation, and unable to move my arms above my head. A snapping rubber band feeling kept me from moving them too far in any direction from my body. It was always in those early sunny moments, and then the sharp pain subsided as the day went on.
I chalked it up to sleeping in an unfamiliar bed.

I returned to work with renewed faith. My zest for life was emerging, scars healing over. Almost immediately a colleague announced her due date in March, I would have been a March mama too. Suddenly everyone was pregnant. Fuckers.

I have a very active job. It requires not just movement, lifting, and action, but stamina and joy. As I paced the floors of my area, my feet began to swell painfully by days' end. They felt like the only thing supporting them was stretched bubblegum. My lovely little toes began developing tailor's bunions on the outside. It made them painful to flex and move outward. My shoes no longer fit me. Goodbye Ferragamo pumps. Hello cross-trainers and Crocs.

These were dancing feet.
Because I do adore my feet, I went to see a podiatrist. He gave me exercises to do, a course of steroids, and I had fancy inserts made for my sneakers. I followed his directions, sort of, did my exercises, sometimes, and iced my feet on one of the bottles of vodka I keep the in freezer.

The thing that made the stretched bubblegum feeling vanish? The steroids. I was giddy with the first dose. I could jump, run, and dance, and the results were within an hour of taking those pills.  There was no pain in my body. I thought I'd only had foot pain. How did I not notice?  How did that sneaky little fucker called pain worm his way into my body without my knowledge? This was a little concerning to me because it was close to Thanksgiving, and my chronic pain began in August.

The dancing quickly stopped.  By Thanksgiving I couldn't step out of bed on my feet anymore. I dreaded that morning wake-up, the stabbing pain radiating up my leg. Sometimes I'd fumble and lean on the wall. Often I was crouched over to maintain balance. Because I had a few days off, I thought rest might help. It didn't. It seemed the only predictable thing in my life at that time was I could guarantee to wake up each morning fearful to step out of bed.

After Thanksgiving it began to spread. I woke up one morning with my hands clenched into fists. My knuckles swollen and contracted. ( No, it wasn't from beating my husband for buying me a paper shredder instead of jewelry.) A hollow soreness that grew into burning took up residence in my hands. The shoulder pain reared its ugliness from time to time. I called the doctor.

I had another appointment with my podiatrist. After examining X-Rays of my tailor's bunions, he said he saw no evidence of actual bone changes or bunions at all. The swelling and bunion-like appearance I had,  seemed to stem strictly from inflammation. Gently to me "I think you ought to see a rheumatologist. You may have rheumatoid arthritis. If you don't get that looked at quickly, you could wind up crippled."

I carried the order for blood work out of the office. Me? Crippled? I'd always enjoyed the outdoors, my energetic and enlivening job, playing an instrument.  I was only 31, how ridiculous to bring up something like that.
Ridiculous indeed...

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