I lay in bed awakened by the sound of rain thundering down on the bedroom window and at that exact moment, my ankle gives me a twinge, a sharp shooting pain. It is a foreboding pain that sets the tone for the day ahead, I sigh and think to myself “This is a bad day”.
Laid still on the bed, my body not wanting to rise, not wanting to face the physical and mental demands of the day, I feel instantly tired despite the night’s sleep I have just woken from.
Anger. I am not even out of bed and I’m angry. I’m angry that this is what arthritis does, this is what it takes it can take whole days away from you.
Maybe I had something planned or just a task in my head that I thought I could get done today, well that will have to wait because today is going to be a fight, a fight against my own body.
Ever the optimist I think to myself I will just sit up, swing around and let my feet touch the carpet beneath the bed. I do this every morning and just from doing this small thing I can get an idea of how the day will go.
Sit up, swing around, put feet on the floor.
Give it a minute.
Evaluate. Can’t get the foot flat to the floor, ankle almost as stiff as my upper lip is going to need to be today. “Yeah, today really is a bad day” I dejectedly tell myself.
Just time for another sigh before negotiating the feet into my trainers and facing the next task of hobbling to the bathroom. Stand up, hoping for a crack or two.
See I don’t mind the crack because it means things are trying to move to the needed position, that’s my view anyway, I welcome the cracks but the cracks don’t come today.
The pain is already searing through me as the ankle refuses to budge even an inch.
I look at the bedroom door, how the hell am I going to make it all that way? I haven’t got a big bedroom at all and it’s not a long-distance but today it feels like a mountain to climb.
So you could say the ascent begins.
With one hand on the bed, I drag myself around to the doorway. I am now at the other corner of the bed and ready to make a lunge for the door handle, once I’ve got there I will have a wall and the bannister to use in the hallway which will help me make it to the bathroom.
I reach the door handle, this part always makes me nervous as in the past I have actually pulled doors off their hinges lunging for them and trying to support myself on them.
The hallway, as I mentioned, is fairly easy to navigate with the wall and bannister I can even lift the foot off the floor a little and give it a bit of a rest. Bit of rest, I’ve only been awake ten minutes, Lord help me.
In the bathroom, I manage to spin myself around feeling like I have the turning circle of a jumbo jet and plonk myself onto the toilet. The next part is all pretty standard stuff so we can move to the next stage, the descent.
The descent down the stairs doesn’t feel too bad, again I have support from the wall and the bannister. The only problem is that I am coming down them that awkwardly due to the stiff ankle that it feels like my hip is going to detach and end up in the next-door neighbour’s house.
Stumble through the living room using the furniture for balance, make it to the kitchen door handle and then use the kitchen worktops to get me to the kettle and the back door.
The kettle goes on and the back door is opened to let the dog out who has been under my feet for pretty much all the journey so I’m already annoyed with her.
I get sat on the sofa with my cup of coffee, wow that feels good to get sat down because I am out of breath and feeling knackered already.
Whilst sitting with my coffee I can then take my trainer and sock off to put my hemp cream on. I use it every day and it is fantastic stuff but I am already doubting if it’s going to be able to help much today.
The cream is applied and the foot goes back on the floor, I start trying to move it slightly just to give it that suggestion that I need more from it. If I could get it flat to the floor that would be a start.
Some time passes and finally, there is some clicking and popping and cracking, I like the cracking.
After some gentle suggestion, the foot is flat to the floor, I can get up and walk around much better now, it still hurts but it does feel like a little victory.
The rest of the day then involves stretching exercises and some low-impact exercise, the pain is constant but more bearable than before. I look at the dog’s sad face and think to myself maybe I’m up to taking you for a walk now.
It is into the afternoon by this point, I have done my exercises and had a bath. The pain is marginally better so I pack the dog in the car and off we go to one of her favourite spots for a walk.
It’s a quiet area so she likes it and so do I, especially on days like this when my walking isn’t one hundred percent the fewer people to see me the better I always think.
As I start to walk the dog someone speaks to me, it’s my ankle and it says “You’ve pushed your luck pal”. Walking along the uneven pavement I receive an almost electric shock-like pain every few steps, the pain ricochets all around my ankle joint.
The dog wants to stop and sniff every post as dogs do, the frustration grows, I am biting my top lip and gritting my teeth thinking I just have to make it back to the car.
Back at the car I sit there and glance at the dog, I feel crap and guilty. She hasn’t enjoyed her walk, I have undone all the good work I did earlier and now I have to go home to put my foot up and rest before going to work in the evening.
Once back at home I can give the dog a treat which will make up for how irritable I have been, dogs are great that way they seem to understand what you are going through and give you consideration and much-needed affection.
The dog is happy again, I’ve returned to the sofa, now I can take my trainer and sock off again and assess the damage AGAIN. Ankle puffed up, swollen and sore. Brilliant, I have work in two hours!
Elevation, more hemp cream applied and put something funny on television to try and take my mind off the trainwreck today seems to be.
When I arrive at work the first thing my colleague says to me “Is your foot sore today? You’re limping a bit”. “It is a little sore yes” I respond whilst in my head thinking “A little sore! You have taken an absolute beating all day my friend”.
Up and down, back and forth to the door to let patients in, by the end of the shift all I want to do is get home and forget this day completely.
Back at home, my foot is searing with pain, I am completely exhausted and I clamber into bed.
After struggling to get comfy I shut my eyes as tightly as I can and bury my head in the pillow whilst thinking to myself, “Please God let tomorrow be better than today”.