A Flare Up – would that be similar to a fry up?
No, it just feels like it!
Each of us will be very used to the aches and pains, the hot, burning joints and the infernal fatigue that can be relentless. The waxing and waning of this disease called RA. Even with controlled disease you never know when it’s going to slap you in the face, knock you for six and stick you back in your bed, stiff and unable to move. Even when we take all our pills and potions according to the strict instructions of the ‘man’ in charge, inject ourselves and attend for regular blood sucking sessions, still we can be floored by the sudden and unexpected impact of a flare. Let’s face it, this disease is unlike any other ... it has a mind of its own!
A mind of its own that we have to learn to understand. One of the first noticeable symptoms of a flare is lethargy; tiredness and difficulty sleeping. This then moves into a phase of generally feeling unwell perhaps with a temperature and non specific aches and pains. Then arrives the acute pain in the joints, swelling, stiffness, the emotional roller coaster and fatigue. Sometimes it is only when we look back at the progression we realise we are in a ‘flare’. Occasionally a flare can hit dramatically with no build up; one day everything is apparently fine, the next it is a struggle just to function!
A flare almost always affects several joints as it is a breakdown of the immune system rather than inflammation of only specific joints. You feel ill, as though perhaps coming down with something like flu, and quite possibly unable to get out of bed! It can last anything from a week or two to months depending on how quickly the disease can be brought under control again. And that must be the aim. Intervention is the only way forward, be it rest or changed medication. Without it we run the risk of ongoing problems or at worst the possibility of joint damage.
With the current treatment methods 'flares' will undoubtedly be become less of a symptom as the disease will, for the main part, be kept under control. However stress, other illnesses, failure of medication can lead to a 'flare'. We all experience the ups and downs of life with RA and that life could never be considered easy. I was always advised to try to get to know my body, not easy when it continually wants to do its own thing, but seemingly necessary to cope with the rigors of this chronic disease.
Maintaining some semblance of ‘normality’ isn't easy. Really, I'm not even sure there is such a thing? Positive I can do, normal ... ?!