The words most uttered during a period of flare: tomorrow will be better. The thing about flares is that you never know how long they will last and how much they will affect you. I am on day 3 of my flare that started Thanksgiving evening. Maybe overdid things and maybe I don’t eat the right foods but I am still paying for it today with joint pain, swelling and fatigue. I keep telling myself if I rest I will wake up and everything will be better but one thing about my flares that I know all too well is that things will get worse before they get better.
This morning my entire right side of my face is swollen and that tells me I am somewhere in the middle of a pretty bad flare up. I have not had one of these flare ups in a very long time. I am waiting for the end of this flare up to come. I am waiting for my energy to return. I am waiting for the stiffness and joint pain to stop and for the swelling to come down because the fact is, tomorrow has to be better. I said that last night when my head finally hit the pillow and I realized that I was about to fall asleep. A flare up makes the simplest things hard even falling asleep. In addition to the swelling, stiffness, fatigue and pain, I just did not feel like myself. I felt like I had no control of my body and even my emotions were compromised.
Earlier, as I was getting ready to start the day (at 11 am simply because I was worn out – my day usually starts at 6:30am even on weekends), I looked in the mirror and touched my swollen face and told myself yet again for the third day in row, tomorrow will be better. I also reminded myself that I was stronger than this flare up because I have gone through many flare ups in past five years and this was merely a setback. Moreover, my kids relied on me to be strong and I had to show them as I always do that no adversary, especially a flare, could keep me down. My pity party was over as quick as it started.
My pep talks during my flares keep me going even when the fatigue and pain gets me down. I have learned to be strong and while I have to remind myself that others rely on me to be strong, I know that I am strong, with or without knowing that my strength is needed by others. It is just another day – more painful and tiring than most but it is just another day. I know that tomorrow will be better because even through rheumatoid arthritis is here to stay; I am still stronger when I decide that I still have to start my day.
Despite the flare up, I get up, shower, get dressed and look presentable. I even put make up on to hide the swelling in my face. I do what I can at home and I pace myself. Flare ups don’t get me down because they are just a reminder that I can still have some control. I make the choice to get up and not let the flare win because every little step I take allows me to be in control and as far as I am concerned, getting up, moving my stiff joints, showering, getting dressed and looking presentable is winning half the battle and well the other half will be won tomorrow or the day after. One day at a time and a daily reminder that tomorrow will be better is all it takes.