Friday, May 29, 2015

What does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Like?

     Rheumatoid Arthritis feels different for everyone.  The reason is because this disease affects each person in a different way.  It affects different joints at different times, is treated in different ways, feels one way during a flare and another way during a remission... the possible answers to this question are endless.

     So, I will try to answer this question in reference to my own experience living with RA.

     I think the easiest way to explain what RA feels like is to compare it to the flu.  The flu is like an extra mean cold that will knock you down and keep you there for several days, maybe a week.  In addition to common cold symptoms, you'll feel achy and sore everywhere.  You'll be so supremely tired you won't be able to drag yourself out of bed.  You won't be able to think clearly because your head hurts too much.  You can't sleep peacefully because you can't stay comfortable.  The flu makes you feel absolutely miserable.  And there's no medicine for it, you just have to deal with it until it goes away.

     Imagine living every single day with the flu (minus the cold symptoms).  That's what RA feels like for me.

     With RA, some days I feel very bad, some days I feel okay and occasionally I feel pretty good.  Sometimes I just can't, and sometimes I can.  Various factors affect how I feel each day, including stress level, medication effectiveness, side effects of medication, diet, amount of exercise, and even the weather.  It's an unpredictable and frustrating existence.  

     I would say that I always feel sick.  During a flare, I feel horrible, my joints ache and the fatigue is overwhelming.  I don't want to do anything because I know it will hurt.  It takes an enormous amount of willpower just to accomplish the basic tasks of daily living.  Some days I feel less pain and more functional and productive, and those are usually during disease remissions or when everything has worked together harmoniously to help me feel as good as I can.  But I never feel 100% healthy.  

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