Day 18, Football and Attacks

Sundays are for football.

This is, and has always been, the rule in my house. As a preteen, I remember watching football on Sundays with my first step-dad and his skeevy brother. Neither of them had the slightest clue about sports (I come by my non-athleticism honestly, at least.) but there was always much yelling. And snacks.

My teenage years were spent with my father’s family (All devout Dallas Cowboy fans.) screaming at the refs and eating big family dinners.

As a young bride, sports reigned every month of the year. My son’s father loved hockey, baseball, basketball, football, poker. Hell, if it was on ESPN, he was watching it. Unless it was racing. Not a NASCAR fan, that one.

When I moved out on my own, ready to brave the world as a single lady, I thought I would abandon sports. I had felt forced to put up with them during my marriage, now I would pursue girly-type things.

Note, I am not girly in the slightest. Unless there’s a mouse. Then I become Lucille Ball, y’all.

As I’ve found myself over the last decade, I’ve also learned that I do, and always will, love me some football. And, because it’s in my blood, I am a Dallas fan.

So yesterday found me disgusted with my TV, muttering obscenities, and occasionally yelling, while doing some editing. The boyfriend worked all day, not that he would have interrupted my yelling, so I was truly alone in my world of football.

With as much grumbling and screaming I was doing, it shouldn’t have surprised me that my chest started hurting. Had anyone actually observed me yesterday, they probably would have thought a heart attack was imminent. No, the chest pain shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Neither should have the tingling fingers and over all fatigue.

However, it did surprise me. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a freight train and scared the bloody bejeesus out of me. I sat in relative stillness, trying to stay calm until my boyfriend made it home from work. I told him how I was feeling and we debated taking me into the hospital. And then I looked down and saw that my toes were swollen.

And it hit me.

I haven’t had a flare hit me like this since my diagnosis in January of this year. I’ve been so spoiled by being on my medications and having my disease mostly managed that I had forgotten how horrible a flare can be.

But I’ve been off my medications for nearly two months as I’ve battled the cold from hell and my body, normally so well managed, went off the rails on a crazy train, as they say. Like the storm outside my windows coming on the wings of the howling wind, my flare hit me out of the clear blue and nearly dropped me to my knees.

My darling made me a quick dinner and I put my feet up. I made a few to-do lists to plan out what needs to be done this week and then I relaxed, as best as I could. As I watched my boyfriend play Grand Theft Auto, I realized how grateful I am for my medications.

I don’t have insurance and I’m not employed. I can’t even apply for disability until after the new year so I really am broke. My other half pays for my medicines and my doctors have kindly set us up on a payment plan where we pay a small amount each month. Most of all, I have doctors who listen to me, who know my body AND my financial situation, and work with me to find the best possible treatments.

I’m grateful for my rheumatologist referring me to a patient assistance program and fighting to get me approved. This program covers the entire cost of my shots, my primary RA medicine. Without this assistance, we would have to figure out how to come up with over $5500 each month.

Or I would be living with constant flares like the one that hit me yesterday.

I still have flares even while on my medications, but none with this intensity. It was a stark reminder of how lucky I am.

I don’t know how to show gratitude for medicine. As for my doctors, you can believe there will be cards going out in this week’s mail for each of them.

Self-care yesterday was…rough. I didn’t know the level I would need until it was nearly too late to do anything about it. Fortunately, my boyfriend took care of it for me, and babied me a bit. It’s still something I struggle with, asking him for help with things I should be able to do myself. But if I’m going to be taking better care of myself, sometimes that means knowing when you can’t or shouldn’t do something.

It means knowing when to ask for help.

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