My turn...


Though I should have been more intuitive and discerning weeks ago, when my doctor called to give me the results of my lab work, I wasn't all that surprised. "It certainly explains much," I told her, and she agreed.

I'd felt awful for months, but the last three or four had been particularly difficult. When you live with chronic pain, it can be difficult to recognize or assess new pain. I think that's part of what happened to me. Because I had learned to push past pain and couldn't bear the thought of disappointing loved ones who needed me, I minimized my current struggles. I was determined to endure. "My knees always hurt," I explained - limping out of the car, stiff and unsteady. "I just need to work out the kinks."

But the days passed and the kinks only worsened. A flight of stairs loomed before me like Mt. Everest every day, I coughed constantly, my hands and feet were swollen and painful, and I struggled to muster enough energy to drive to the store. I could barely write, even typing on the laptop was painful, and I couldn't lift my right arm high enough to dress without excruciating pain.


Worst of all, mornings - those first delightful moments of every day I'd always greeted with joy when the house was still and quiet and sunlight blew out the darkness - became my daily dread.  Getting out of bed and down the stairs was an overwhelming obstacle that followed a less-than-restful sleep.

Though I tried to hide my discomfort, my stiff and gimpy gait betrayed me. I promised Louis that as soon as I was released from "mimi duty" I'd see the doctor, but one weekend when I was home, he caught me struggling to stand and unable to walk after getting out of bed. That's when he said, "No more."


The days following Thanksgiving were clearly the worst. It was all I could do to move from the bed to the bathroom or a chair in the living room - a triangle of space within which I lived for days. For a few years, I have been delighted to be able to help an elderly disabled friend once a week with a few small chores, errands and other tasks she cannot safely accomplish alone or at all. Though she still needs help, she has improved considerably and no longer uses some of the handicap equipment she once needed. It was truly humbling for me to need to borrow some of that equipment now stored in her garage. 

For a variety of reasons, I decided to change primary doctors, and though it meant waiting until the first of December before I could see her, it was most likely one of the best decisions I could have made. She was very thorough, and though she carefully considered my past history, she examined me with a fresh perspective.

When she called to tell me the results of my lab work, I was not surprised. I had seen my orthopedic surgeon about my knees the same day I had blood work drawn, and I told him I suspected there was something systemic going on that was causing me such distress. We discussed at length the various options for treating my knees, but he agreed that I needed to be healthier before proceeding with anything more than a cortisone injection.


"It's a bad disease, you know." The rheumatologist was kind, but honest. "The good news is that we know much more about how to treat rheumatoid arthritis today than when your mother was living."

My mother. Yes, my mother. I see my mother's face in mine when I look in the mirror, and for a moment it takes my breath away. The same hairline, brown eyes and pink cheeks.

"It's my turn," I tell myself and the image in the mirror, as if it really was my mother. "You always did tell me growing older wasn't for sissies."

It was no coincidence that I wrote this toward the end of summer. I believe it was prevenient grace - that it would soon be my turn to honor my mother's legacy and face the trials ahead of me with a merry heart and the grace and humor she sweetly displayed.

Pollywog Creek is not going to become a journal for my ongoing health issues.* Lord willing, I'll soon be back to those leisurely walks around the pond and down by the creek and through the pasture with my camera. After all, this life is not about me.

In fact, inspired by the penny royal I spotted growing along my neighbor's pasture, I felt well enough to slowly make my way through our pasture this weekend - where I delighted in warblers and rusty lyonia and the green that was sprouting through the frost-bitten grass. It was a sweet taste of God's goodness and grace.

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
~ Psalm 100:5 ESV

Six day old Addisyn...

a grand afternoon
...and a grand afternoon.

*I'm going to chronicle this RA journey of mine in an invitation-only blog. If it is something you sincerely care to read or follow, just drop me an email at pollywogcreekporch(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll be more than happy to send you an invitation.