“Will you shoot me up?” I asked.
She said yes. Relief flooded over me like a wave.
I’d explained how the bad flare had gotten much worse on the weekend. How my neck and shoulders were in a tight knot, every movement bringing a crunching of tendons, as well as screaming in pain. I had recounted the impossibility of life with a permanent golf elbow (like a tennis elbow, except on the other side of the elbow). Had gone on to describe how the tendons in my right ankle were perpetually seized up, so brittle it felt like they were going to crack. And that, well, every other tendon in my body felt too short and like it was going to break.
She knows me. She knows I don’t ask unless it’s necessary.
The fear had come back again, grabbing hold of the coattails of the pain. Fear that this would take weeks to heal. Fear that this would mean taking time off now rather than in August. Fear that my time off would be spent healing a flare/crash/injury, rather than feeding my soul and writing a book. Fear that I would have trouble doing what my body needed once The Boy* left for his home and his work. Fear that this would swallow my summer of adventures, impact my care, and my ability to take care of myself. Swallow my life. All together, they rushed me like a gang of hooligans, a slight crack in my defenses giving them the chance they needed.
Thankfully, The Boy was here this weekend. I couldn’t have faced that pain alone. Because he was here, I could lie down when my body screamed. Because he was here, I could do what was needed. We limped out — The Boy not, me metaphorically — for lunch with the Tinks, found a table away from the shade and baked ourselves in the rays of the sun. That helped a little.
And that’s when I realized that this flare I’ve been having is at least in part a Fibro flare. I know how to fight back against one of those. Heat and muscle relaxants. But mostly heat. I had to find a way to make myself sweat. Not easy in this chilly spring.
So there was a lot of sleeping, wrapped in heat. I burrowed under a down comforter, wrapped my ankle in a warm beanbag, and fed off the heat of the man lying next to me. When (briefly) up, I put on socks and dug out a sweater I hadn’t worn since the weather was closer to freezing. When a mix of a lot of drugs (prescription, entirely legal), salty, buttery popcorn, and exhaustion triggered a hot flash, I welcomed it and tried to create another.
Slowly, I moved back towards life, towards healing, towards slightly more reasonable pain levels. By Sunday evening, I could be up again, without my ankle doing more than muttering (as opposed to screaming). It was progress.
Monday morning, there hadn’t been much movement since the night before. Taking a shower wiped me out, and as I (metaphorically) crawled towards the computer and work, I knew I needed more help. That or a month off and I really don’t want to do that until August and for an entirely different reason.
I finagled an early afternoon appointment with my doctor and once in her office, explained the situation.
“Will you shoot me up?” I asked at the end. And she said yes.
Most of the time, steroid shots take about a week to work, but every now and again, the effect is instantaneous. Yesterday was somewhere in between the two, and I look forward to the rest of it kicking in, helping me to get back to where I was.
But one thing helps every time, even for a short while. The local anaesthetic that they mix with the steroid. Injecting that in the trigger point brings instant relaxation of tense muscles, a relaxation you can ride for as long as the freezing works, working together with it to loosen the muscles that have started to imitate rocks.
Sometimes, pain is loud. Sometimes loud pain persists so long that you no longer quite notice it. And getting that shot brought about a quiet in my right shoulder and the right side of my back. A quiet that was enough that I could move a little more forward towards reasonable.
Steroid shots are the bomb.
*The Boy = Lene’s partner David Govoni
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.