I have a love-hate relationship with May.

poplarsLene

‘Poplars Popping’ by Lene Andersen

May is the month when the world comes back to life, when it’s 99% sure it won’t snow again for months, when grey and brown makes room for shades of green and when it finally and at last becomes warm enough to take off my socks and set my toes free after a winter of being trapped.

What’s not to love?

May, however, is also Arthritis Awareness Month in the US. I work for the RA site of HealthCentral. Which is located in the US. May is, to say the least, busy. And no matter what we do to mitigate the busy, to schedule things so they don’t all clump into the same week, to get a grip and keep our plans reasonable and attainable, it doesn’t help.

Oh, sure. The first week everything ticks along like a well-oiled machine. The first week we get all cocky and pleased with ourselves, talking about how the plan is working and aren’t we just terrific. The first week is perfection.

The second week starts out fine, too. Perhaps some extra work pops up here and there, but we have the better part of a 31-day month to deal with it, so no worries. Right?

Wrong.

Because on or about May 10, in all starts to unravel. But I don’t notice, because there’s still the better part of a 31-day month to deal with the work that’s slowly popping up and organizing itself into slightly catastrophic piles. The cocky is still firmly in residence. I can totally do this, as long as I start moving just a little bit faster. So I do. And not only does the veracity of Newton’s first law of motion become apparent – an object in motion tends to stay in motion — this is also when suspicion dawns that there is a subclause to this law. Namely that in May, an object in motion will accelerate at an exponential rate with every single day that passes.

Somehow, I manage to increase the pace every day. Sure, I admit to being somewhat frazzled, my brain pinging like a ball in a pinball machine run amok and I have been known to beg my doctor for weekly B-12 injections (a.k.a. Energizer Bunny shots) in the desperate hope that they will take me to the end of the month in one piece. Because not only has Awareness Month activities taken over every waking hour, the rest of my life continues apace and it all combines into a swirling, whirling ball of insanity.

By the time the end of week three rolls around, somewhere from the murky depths of the boiling tornado that has become my mind, a memory surfaces. Isn’t there something else about May? Didn’t I name it something else?

Oh, right.

Hell Month.

May is the month I don’t talk to anyone. May is the month when family and friends start saying they miss me and I say I’ll get back to them in June. May is the month when the lists are twice as long as normal and never I catch up. May is the month when adrenaline keeps me going. And going and going. Somehow, my body agrees to support the crazy, not bothering me with idle threats about the consequences that will hit approximately June 3 at 10:25 AM. May is the month when I find out just how much I’m capable of doing. June is the month when I find out how much I’ll pay for zooming by my limits so fast they’re obliterated.

The third week in May is also the time when I start asking friends to next year not to schedule anything else at all in May but Arthritis Awareness Month. It’s the time when I start thinking about making a note in next April’s calendar to remind everyone that I’ll disappear for the month of May. And yet somehow, every year we make a plan and it seems reasonable and attainable and I’m sure everything will be fine.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

There are two working days left of Hell Month 2014. I’m counting the hours until it’s all over this Friday evening (at whatever time it takes for me to finish). When I do, I’ll be off for a week, most likely crashing Tuesday morning.

And this year, I have decided to do something different. This year, I have a plan. Or rather, I have a plan for next year. It has two parts. Part one starts today: I cop to the crazy, say it out loud in public. And then put a reminder in my calendar for next April 1 to read this post. And on April 2, 2015, I will send an email to everyone I love telling them that I’ll be gone in May. Then an email will go out to every project in which I’m involved that is not related to inflammatory arthritis saying I will be incommunicado until June 1st.

Because I have finally realized that no matter how good the plan, the primal force that is Arthritis Awareness Month will take over my life and the only way to survive is to jump on the ride and hang on for dear life.

Wheeeeee!

Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She’s the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.