Sunday, 5 December 2010

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Snow

I don't think I've mentioned on my blog before, but I was diagnosed with seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis about ten years ago. In the beginning I was literally crippled by it, unable to walk and pretty much housebound. But thanks to a little magic pill called Plaquenil, I steadily got my life back to something resembling normal. However, RA is unpredictable and flares of varying degrees are a common feature.

I had my right hip replaced six years ago when it had got so bad it was bone on bone, but I'd never had a problem with my knees until three years ago. Since then every winter has produced a painful and debilitating flare in and around my knee, mainly affecting the left one, but with some right sided involvement. It's not just the joint that's affected, but the whole supporting structure of tendons.

The reason I'm posting this is because I think there may be a definite link with the snow, or at least the cold. I've read that the body is like a barometer, and it has certainly been my experience that air pressure and damp affects my joints, but this snow thing has only just dawned on me. The last three winters have been harsh, with heavy snow fall, and I'm wondering if there is a connection. Whether my current flare in my left knee is down to the cold or the effect walking on a slippery surface has had upon my joints and tendons, I'm unsure. What I do know is I change the way I walk when trying to remain upright. Maybe that placed undue strain on the supporting structure of the knee?

This latest flare came on surprisingly abruptly, in fact I've never before experienced any flare develop quite so rapidly. I woke in the morning three days back, felt absolutely fine, showered, got dressed, then sat at my dressing table drying my hair. When I'd finished, I walked out of my bedroom to go downstairs, and that's when it struck. I suddenly felt a pain in my knee and as I struggled to walk down the stairs, easing myself down one step at a time, it swiftly spread throughout my knee, from left to right going via the tendons at the back of the knee. By the time I reached the kitchen I was hobbling around holding on to the worktops.

The knee is now swollen and warm to the touch and very painful, often disturbing my sleep during the night. My ankles are also swollen as evidenced by the deep rings in the evening where the tops of my socks have sunk into the flesh. Clearly there is no way I will be venturing out on the sheet ice that now covers the footpath. I doubt I'd be able to get out and about even if it wasn't icy.

I haven't been this bad in a long time, but I know from experience that physio is a waste of time, and if anything only exacerbates the pain and delays the healing. I've learnt that all I can do is rest and continue with my medication with the addition of some anti inflammatory cream rubbed into the area, and wait until the flare subsides. This may take days, weeks or months, I have no way of knowing how long it will take. But I'm also mindful that I need to keep moving whilst not putting undue strain on the joint. I usually manage this by daily walks with my dog Bailey. Just a gentle stroll around the woods. But that isn't going to be possible with the present icy conditions.

I hate feeling trapped at home. But I'm not here to moan, that doesn't help my mood at all, and stressing out doesn't help the RA to recede. I'd rather just accept it and work with it than against it. So I've been putting my enforced rest to good use by practicing some new jewellery techniques. All this wire wrapping is playing havoc with my thumb joints, but at least my knee is rested! It takes me a good while to get going when I've been sat still though. I'm trying to maintain a balance between resting and not sitting so long that I seize up. So I'm pottering around doing what I can here and there.

The only worry I have is that Bailey isn't going for his daily trek around the woods. Poor little lad is looking really fed up. I can't even get down on the floor to play with him. I've considered hiring a dog walker just so he can get some exercise. My days fly by as there's always something for me to occupy myself with, but he just lies in his bed sighing and wanting my attention. In many ways he's a very intelligent dog. I just wish I could get him to understand that I love him more than life itself, but at the moment I can't walk. It breaks my heart to see him looking so fed up. :(

No comments:

Post a comment