Posted in rheumatoid arthritis

The Numbness

Yesterday,  I realized how easily and quickly RA pain and symptoms could change in a matter of hours. When morning came, I could not fully wake myself up and I felt extremely exhausted even though I had gotten about nine hours of sleep the previous night. The worst of it lasted for several hours. By the time I made it into work, my right and left wrists were inflamed, both palms of my hands were swollen, and my fingers were curling up. Needless to say, it took a lot of me to keep myself my together and even to do my job. The pain moved into my arms and my shoulders by around noon to a point where I can barely pick up a bunch of documents or lift my arms up and my shoulders felt like they were holding the weight of the world on them. It was even hard to keep a straight posture.

My ankles, my knees and my feet were swollen and inflamed by late afternoon and by the time five o’clock rolled around, my eyes felt like they were on fire and my body could give no more. I felt like I was pulling a 500 pound body into my car at the end of the workday.  By evening, every joint in my body was inflamed and filled with extreme pain.

If I had been able to keep it together all day, the toughness that consumed me for most of the day came to end by nine in the evening. I had handled all that I could handle and finally had my pity party, which was long overdue. I tried to convince myself that tomorrow would be better but the pain consumed me tremendously and I realized that I could not hold the tears back.  My kids were in bed by this point, but my husband knew it was time to start tip-toeing around me.  Little by little, chronic pain can take away vital parts of us – our kindness, our love and compassion, and the emotional part that makes us human. I go through the emotions every time the “bad days” come. It never gets easier, on us or on our loved ones.

Morning came and the worst of it was gone. Once the pain and the stiffness eased up, the numbness set in and the numbness has become the worst of it. The numbness is my control mechanism to keep everything together but it leaves me emotionless and sometimes, I try hard to feel something and I can’t. I start going through motions of life like robot without a thought, or feeling, or even any passion for what I am doing. No matter how much I hate it, the numbness consumes me to a point where all I can do is wish to feel something or some kind of emotion.

The numbness will soon pass, as did the majority of the pain. It is so hard when you feel nothing and your body responds like a robot. I do not really feel sorry myself, but I do feel sorry for my husband and my children that I miss out on time with them while I am feeling sorry for myself or while I am letting the numbness consume me. I once told my friend, Rhonda, that this numbness feels worse than being dead. I have since been careful to utter that aloud because as horrible as it feels, it cannot possibly be true.

Unless the pain hits “extreme” on my pain scale, I usually keep scurrying about my life. I really don’t have a choice and I have learned that the world doesn’t stop because I need it to. However, the numbness makes me feel less human and it takes away from me my passion for life. It, too, will soon pass, but as alone as I feel in those moments, I am pretty sure I am not alone in trying to make sense of it all.   Others struggling with chronic pain actually get it.


3 thoughts on “The Numbness

  1. Your words reminded me of where I was only a few days ago. Since then I had a couple of better days, but things are once again acting up. It's hard I know, but you'll get through…and if nothing else, at least we can share stories and help each other get through these rough moments 🙂

  2. I'm so sorry you've had such a hard time these last few days, Lana. It's been a long time (knock wood) since I've hurt that badly, but I do remember and empathize.As I was reading your post, it occurred to me that the "numbness" you wrote about is possibly a good thing, rather than a bad one. It may be that your mind has found a way to get you through the flare in one piece and still sane; while it's still unpleasant, you know that it will pass, and the numbness protects you from the worst of the pain.I may be waaaay off base here, but maybe this is actually an effective coping mechanism. At any rate, I hope that you'll be feeling much better very quickly, and that your joy in life will soon be back to help you along.Be gentle with yourself. I'm thinking of you …-Wren

  3. RA Guy – I could not agree. Thank you for commiserating with you. It sucks but it will soon pass and I do think it is important that we share our stories and struggles.Wren – Thank you Wren for your kind words. I was actually thinking as a I drove home today what really feels like. It is like when you are grieving and then you become numb after you have grieved for long. It is the point between grieving and accepting. I think the worst flare ups have such a long gap between them (weeks and sometimes months) that I when hit "normal" again, I have already forgotten when it the flare-up starts all over.

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