There are mornings I wake up and yawn and stretch and wiggle my toes with minimal pain. There are days that I can go up and down the stairs with almost no discomfort at all. There are times when these good days last a week, sometimes two.

It is during this time that I begin to question myself. It’s an odd mixture of mistrust of self and denial. It is a period in which my mind is consumed with the thought that I must be making it up.

The Arthritis Wrecking Ball

Maybe I’m just being whinny.

Maybe I’m just being a wuss.

Maybe it’s not that bad, I’m just making too big a deal.

Over and over, the thoughts hammer my judgment. They tell me I can do more than I think. Mind over matter or some nonsense.

It means I spend days considering the medications I’m on, the fact that I spent xyz number of days in bed a couple weeks ago, and the constant downtrodden attitude is clearly all for show.

What if I’m not sick?

What if it’s all in my head?

What if I just fooled the doctors?

The trouble with these days is that they never last. Without fail, I over do it, I walk too far, try to crouch down too low, try to carry something too heavy. Without fail, my body comes swinging back the other direction like a wrecking ball. The upswing goes up in the air, into the sunshine and joy and then falls out of space, slamming into my life, breaking my will and reminding me, crumbled on the floor, that I am not making it up.

The hardest part of this denial is watching the wrecking ball arch, knowing that if I’m wrong, it will swing back exponentially harder and leave me in a heaping mess.

The hardest part is lying in bed, painful, swollen, crying, wishing for anything to make it better.

The hardest part is when reality comes crashing back.

I am not well.

It is not all in my head.

The doctors are not wrong.

I am not a wuss.

I am not whinny.

I am not making too big a deal.

I have arthritis and it’s painful and it’s my life.

And yet, typing those words, the part of me that wishes desperately to be well again is saying “You don’t mean that.”

And maybe a certain amount of denial is needed. I have accomplished more than my doctors thought I would in these past 6 months. I went from hardly able to walk up and down stairs to being cane free 99% of the time, even when we leave the house. By all accounts, progress by leaps and bounds.

If I was always realistic, I’d never push myself, I’d never fight. If I was always listening every time my doctors told me I can’t do something, I’d still be bedridden. The denial can definitely come in handy.

But there is a line and I tend to cross it. When you can’t rely on your own body and mind, it’s easy to question the reality of your situation.

I can’t trust my body to work. I never know when I wake up if I will walk today or spend the day in bed. Hell, I don’t know from minute to minute. I can start a day great only to be in bed by noon. And maybe a decent amount of denial is what helps me keep pushing… But at some point, you make your peace with life.

I have not made my peace.

I have not let go of my denial.

And each time I am punched in the back of the head unexpectedly, every time that wrecking ball arches and pauses for a moment at it’s peak, I watch in slow motion as it breaks down whatever I wall of denial had built up. Leaving me left with nothing but the broken pieces of reality and a broken body I can’t seem to accept.