I’ve had RA for so long now that I’ve had to develop a coping technique of mentally acknowledging but ignoring the pain. I rarely stop to actively think about the pain unless it becomes unbearable. I’ve read blogs by other individuals with RA, who try to describe what their pains feel like. For the most part I’m able to relate to them, which I think is amazing, crazy and sad that people around the world are facing the same challenges which I do every day. I read this article on RA by Tiffany Westrich at HealthCentral.com a while ago, and I thought the writer did a great job of explaining what it feels like to have RA. In addition to the pain, she went on to include the fatigue and overall “sick” feeling.
Today I’m writing about what RA feels like to me. This is my experience and it may not be typical of another person with RA.
My most painful time is in the morning, as my medications have worn away by this time and my body has stiffened during the night. I’m drained and tired, even though I spent the past 8 hours resting. It’s as if my body is unable to re-charge. I have a fever and my head is pounding. I feel dizzy and groggy. No matter how much sleep I’ve gotten, it feels like every part of my body has been broken. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that during the night I was somehow involved in an accident which caused my entire body to become damaged. RA is deceiving, because the pain does not show. There is no blood, yet my joints feel like someone took a hammer and pounded them repeatedly. Unless my joints are swollen, there aren’t any wound marks which reveal the extent of what I’m feeling.
It feels like stabbing in my joints.
Sometimes it feels like cold knives, like winter has somehow set into my body. For those of you who follow Game of Thrones, you’ll remember “Winter is coming” and all that breathtaking icy, snowy tundra where part of the series was set. That’s how it feels inside my body. I feel the cold coming on as my joints stiffen and I realize I can’t move. I’m trapped.
But sometimes, too, it feels like searing heat and pain radiating from the inside out. It feels like there are flames inside my joints. Sometimes the pain is constant, like the pains in my wrists and knees and elbows. It’s a dull, throbbing pain that’s always there in the background of my life.
If I jerk my joints too suddenly, if the bones grate or I stress them too much, I feel sharp pains as if someone shoved a knife into that joint. The sharp pains are the difficult ones, because if I don’t rest, these pains continue growing in magnitude and eventually render me immobile.
If you don’t have RA, all this probably sounds quite strange (and a bit depressing). 😦 😦 😦 But I do hope that persons who don’t have RA will have gained some insight into what RA patients experience, often on a daily basis. Living with an invisible illness has heightened my awareness of the fact that virtually anyone standing in front of me can be experiencing pain or difficulty and I’d never know.
I’d like to share one of my favourite quotes with you:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ― Unknown
Wishing you all the best,