A woman reaches out toward a vision of her former, pre-flare self

I Feel Like I Never Recovered from That Flare

I feel like I never truly recovered from some of my worst flares. There just seem to be elements of them that linger. It might be the exhaustion that I can never shake, no matter how much I sleep. Or it could be the joint that doesn't want to sit in quite the same way again. I'm looking at you, toes.

Living that post-flare life

I can think of one flare in college, that I know I never came back from. Between a raging flare with vicious fatigue and an unforgiving course load, I was drained in a way I hope I never feel again.

My feet used to crack with every step. My entire body felt inflamed. I spent my free time chasing peace and hope. I desperately needed something to hold onto to get through those dark months.

Years later, I still haven't achieved the condition I was in before then. I long for my body to be back in the state where I could walk across the entire city of Boston with classmates, gelato in hand, and not needing a single break.

Letting go of expectations

So often, I've wished time had a pause button. I wish I could stop the world and give my body time and the healing it needs. Enough time to rest without worldly stresses looming over my head. But, that would be too perfect. The world won't stop turning, and life goes on.

Something I had to learn to do was to let go of what I had before. While I never had a 'who I was before arthritis' since I've dealt with it since I was pretty small, I realize I do have a 'who I was before my disease progressed.'

I had to let go of my expectations. For me, I've had to remember that this disease ebbs and flows, and nothing is permanent. Things aren't going to improve overnight. I have to be patient and remember progress isn't linear.

Progress is made in small steps, not leaps and bounds.

It can be hard to recognize the progress I've made since it came slowly, in small steps that were much harder to notice than simply bouncing back to the way things were before. It would take me a while to realize I was slowly getting better. 

It only started to occur to me after I was up to sitting on the couch instead of lying in bed after work or when I didn't need my compression gloves all day. Those small things were huge victories! Sometimes, recovery is going to have some setbacks. Flares sometimes linger for a bit.

There are times where things get worse before they get better, or a flare pops up and seemingly undoes progress. While it's disappointing, I feel more positive by reminding myself progress is not linear. A setback isn't always going to put you back at square one (though it's so hard when it does).

It's too easy to focus on not being 100%, even when 75% is still pretty darn good. I've come far since my flare, and even if I'm not quite where I was before, I've come close.

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