I could feel it coming. As the cold front moved in and the convergence zone began to rock and rage against all that nature was trying to mix, I felt a tingle.
It was not the tingle of anticipation, it was the tingle I feel in my bones and joints each time the weather is going to change. And much like Mary Poppins floating in when the wind changes, my arthritis was on the defensive with the changing breeze.
I would love to say I woke up to sore joints, but waking infers sleeping, neither of which happened. Instead I lie awake in bed, willing my body to relax and the pain building in my ankles to stop… or at least slow. But my will was not that strong.
And so I rose this morning, sliding out of bed in perfect physical therapy form, stiff, using my hips as a fulcrum to swing my legs gently to the edge so that they can dangle. In a paused moment of silence, I allowed the pain to engulf my whole body. I felt the pressure in my ankles reach the point that I thought they’d explode. My back, bent and incapable of holding my body erect for more than 15 minutes, sighed with a deep ache that felt as though it was radiating from my spinal cord itself. My hands trembled at the weight of my down comforter and my knees refused to bend or bear weight so that I resumed taking each stair step individually and sideways to minimize weight and movement.
But, on any given day, no matter how bad the pain, I only allow it to take over for that brief pause. It surrounds me completely and for a moment; it takes my breath away. And then I will myself to resume breathing, deeply, purposefully, to regain control. Then I will the pain back into the parts of the body it belongs. The pain is not less, but more compartmentalized.
While I often joke about how productive my insomnia is (I got TONS of work done), I must admit that some days, I wish my arthritis really was more like Mary Poppins and that instead of pain in unending waves, I might slide up and down the banister to move about the house and snap my fingers to clean the kitchen.
Life doesn’t stop. There is no snapping. Just dishes to be washed and garbage that needs to go out.
I remember, not long ago in my short life, laying on the floor, pens spread out, papers and books and everything I owned in front of me. Now I struggle to work from my couch or my bed. Neither of which are really all that less painful than trying to sit at a desk in a chair.
So, I choose to see Mary Poppins. Maybe not what most would say. Maybe not what many would wish. But if my arthritis were like Mary Poppins, it would drift in gently when the weather changes, but never stay too long and never wear out its welcome. Then be gone with a breeze.