We are all creatures of habit; we do the same things every day without even giving them a second thought. Daily tasks such as getting up in the mornings, getting ready for work, making dinner and household chores are all part of our lives. But when something happens and you are unable to carry out all these tasks without difficulty, you realise how much you u had taken simple things for granted.
Most of us struggle to get out of bed in the mornings, but when you suffer with an illness such as Rheumatoid Arthritis it can be much harder to get up. A lot of sufferers wake with a lot of pain and swelling in their joints, others wake with zero energy levels. For me it’s the lack of sleep that makes it so difficult. On average I sleep for two to three hours a night, some nights I'm lucky if I nod off at all. So when my alarm goes off in the morning I don't feel a bit rested and would give anything to hide under the quilt for the day. My arthritis symptoms seem to be flare up at night time. This week has been a particularly bad week for me. The burning pain in my feet and hands has been so unbearable I've been getting out of bed and using ice packs to relieve the swelling. It takes a few hours before I can get enough relief to go back to bed and by that time it's almost time to get up again.
When I finally give in and get out of bed (after a few fights with my alarm clock) I then have to shower and get dressed. Getting dressed isn't as easy as it used to be, it’s a slower process these days and simple things like tying my bra strap with dodgy wrists is proving very difficult. Doing my hair isn’t much fun either when I can see every day how much more it’s after thinning. I was never blessed with a thick head of hair so losing some of what I have is very depressing. My breakfast consists of a bit of food, some tablets and on some mornings an injection and then it's time to head off to work. As the day goes on my fingers and wrists become so tired and painful that I end up having to wear wrist supports and my writing is so bad I struggle to read my own writing.
When I get home in the evening I am so tired all I want to do is go to bed, not to sleep but just to lie down for a while. Making dinner is a big effort, I usually don’t have the energy and when I do, things like chopping vegetables and peeling potatoes are hard to do. Cleaning tasks such as hoovering, polishing and ironing don’t get done half as much as they should; not because I don’t want to do them but because I’m just not able.
Doing other activities such as walking or other exercise, going to the pub or any other form of socialising is practically non-existent at the moment. I didn’t want to stop all these things, I feel like I’ve been forced to stop because of the tiredness and lack of energy, the pain which restricts a lot of what I can do and my lack of self-esteem which is now becoming as bad as my arthritis.
Having arthritis has changed my daily life in so many ways I never thought it would. So I suppose it’s only natural it has affected my mood too. It’s upsetting and frustrating not being able to do things I used to do. It’s exhausting going through every day with only a couple of hours sleep each night. Most days I feel like it would be so much easier to stay in bed and hide away from the world than it would be to get up and face my life. I could wallow away in self-pity without annoying anyone with my problems. But realistically I know that won’t help. The best thing I can do is carry on doing as much as I can for the moment and hope that over time my symptoms will improve.