Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Winds of Spring

Looks like my plans are made for this week. Above is a picture of the maple helicopters that had fallen onto the deck as of about an hour ago. As I sit here listening to the strong breezes knock more off the trees and against the house, I know these have been added to by now. It's stopped raining and now it's windy and chilly outside, but with a promising sky. I'll let these dry off today, and collect still more, then go to work on them tomorrow with a broom and rake. These seeds are everywhere, on roofs, in the fertile ground of the garden, and in the rain gutters. They'll have to be dealt with. In the meanwhile, there's plenty to do inside here, sweeping up the last of the oak pollen. That will keep me busy for a day or two.

Not to sound like I'm 62 years old or anything, but I'm kicking and screaming towards the realization that I'm going to have to do something about joint pain I'm experiencing more and more. It makes these daily chores a painful ordeal, and I'll be damned if I'm going to be sidelined if I can help it. I come from a line of people rich in many things, among them rheumatoid arthritis. My mother had a case that hid itself until she was in her 50s. Sometime during that decade, she was working with my father, helping in the construction of their new house by the water, when she had an accident and fell, landing from some height on her back. It was then that the rheumatoid arthritis was discovered. I'll never forget seeing her carried to her bed nor the extreme pain she was in, which lasted weeks. As time passed, the disfigurements of the disease became visible; her fingers were badly twisted by the time she reached her 70s (but she was able to knit me the bedspread I still use). It wasn't just on my mother's side of the family, either: my Aunt Grace, my father's sister, suffered with the disease for as long as I knew her. I only remember her with the bloated ankles brought on by the cortisone she took to control the pain. My sister, who makes her living at the piano, has so far been spared any pain or disfigurement. Good for her.

I've always assumed I would get osteo-arthritis simply as a function of the use of my joints. Cartilage does break down. And even with the pain in my hips, I'm still able to take my morning walks, because walking at that brisk pace is far different from a slow stroll, which does become painful after an hour or so. But with RA in my background, I owe it to myself to know what it is I'm dealing with. An eventual hip replacement is by far preferable to an auto-immune disease that simply progresses at its own, inexorable but unknowable speed. So I guess I'll be making a doctor's appointment this week, too.

6 comments:

Nan said...

Thanks for the Vince tune. I listen to him quite often. And, if it is a hip replacement that is needed, it will give you "new life." Tom had one 2 years ago, after dealing with chronic pain and a pronounced limp for several years. After the initial recovery, he got his life back and has no regrets - except that maybe he should have done it sooner. I'm glad you are going to check it out.

Ralph said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Nan. A friend in his 40s has just had his second hip replaced and I've been cheering him on, too..if that's all it comes to and it's not RA I'll be grateful.

Kat said...

Ralph,
My sister Moe has had RA since her twenties, and she is amazing. Even with all that pain she raised three kids and wields a mean vacuum. Her hands and feet swell and she can barely walk or use her hands, but that never stops her. Just amazing!

Cuidado said...

A year ago I was seeing my doctor for the same thing. Thank goodness for ibuprophen.

Ralph said...

Well, of it comes to that, Kat, Mo's certainly an inspiration.

Ralph said...

So right abouut ibuprofin, Cuidado. I don't like some of its supposed long-term side effects, but if that's all there is to take and it turns out that's what I have, then I guess I'll just adjust.