To break convention a bit, I’ve decided not to make a list in this post (don’t worry, I’m shocked too) and instead tell you a story about a standard night in with arthritis. So strap in, and get ready for a juicy, joint fluid-y night of passion. Spoiler: it’s even less romantic than 50 Shades.
Let me set the mood…
It was a Monday night. My weekend consisted of 22 hours over two days on my feet at work. My day had been an early start, a long library session followed by the gym, followed by a walk to the supermarket for a big food shop.
The weather: humid and damp.
Before I could reach the end of my street, it started to rain. A sensible person would have walked the 50 yards back to their house and put a coat on, but I’m so British that I see ‘a bit of rain’ as an open challenge and kept walking. Five minutes later it was pouring down, my hair was dripping, and my damp clothes were clinging to my now-furious joints. I arrived at Morrisons looking like a drowned rat, with the walk home (yes even after that I was still too stubborn to take the bus) still ahead.
For most people that probably just sounds like a tiring long weekend, but someone with arthritis probably cringed as they read it. Long days on your feet + damp weather = recipe for disaster.
My night-in date arrives
Sure enough, by the end of the evening a flare had turned up in the form of a burning pain in the back of my knees and a bizarre sensation that my kneecaps had come unscrewed. I finally gave up on my plan to clean the house (which, in fairness, would have been ambitious job for one evening at the best of times) and made a gourmet dinner for us i.e. a £1 frozen ready meal.
Fast forward an hour and I was lying on top of the pile of clothes that I was meant to be sorting, googling things like “pain in back of knee” and “how to reduce burning joint pain when you forgot to buy ibuprofen” and “why do I do these things to myself when I know very well that this is how it ends”.
The problem with that kind of desperate search for a scientific explanation is that it very rarely tells you anything you want to hear. Pretty soon I was reading about things rubbing against each other, and not in a sexy way. More of a horrific sounding, bone grinding kind of way. You could say it really got my heart racing.
Moving things to the bedroom…
…proved completely pointless because I was in far too much pain to sleep. It was impossible to find a comfortable position and any moaning coming from under the sheets was just me swearing into my pillow as my legs spasmed with pain.
My stomach was starting to do flips, both from the burning sensation in my joints and the growing anxiety that in my determination to have a productive weekend I’d actually done some real damage. Eventually I realised that reading about meniscuses and surgical interventions on my phone really wasn’t helping. I decided to give up on an early bedtime, settle in for a long night and find something to rescue the vibe of the evening a bit.
What I got up to on the bed (with arthritis)
First things first, I needed to put on something more comfortable. And by that, I mean a blissfully cold bag of frozen peas, wrapped in a jumper (all our tea towels were minging), draped over my knees. During a flare there’s no pleasure like it.
I then looked around my room wondering what to do. Sensible suggestions like replying to my tutor’s emails or doing some more reading for my dissertation were soon disregarded as completely ludicrous. Instead my brain went for my favourite thing: music.
Because I still have a hangover my from my adolescent indie phase I do actually own a little acoustic six string and so I spent the next hour learning a few new chords and slowly putting them together. I even sung along with my painfully out of time finger work. Before anyone feels too sorry for my neighbours, I did it very quietly, and in any case my housemate’s video game was blasting loud enough downstairs to block out even the loudest bedroom activities.
When my fingers got tired (joint damage problems) I rummaged through my book collection and picked up one of my all-time favourites. I read the words out loud to myself, then went back at the end to re-read my favourite quotes.
Taking it into the late night
It was way past my bedtime by this point, but I was trying to ignore the clock. It’s no fun at all to keep checking the time and count down the (ever decreasing) number of hours until your alarm goes off the next morning.
Once I’d finished the book, I put my headphones in and delved back into some old music I hadn’t listened to since I was 14 and Hayley William’s latest hair colour was the most important thing in the world. I googled the recipe for a Japanese dish the protagonist in my book had mentioned. I read an article about an Australian conservation programme for numbats.
I realised that, although arthritis was being the absolute worst night-in date ever, distracting myself from it meant I was getting to play with all my hobbies and weird little interests that I don’t normally make a lot of time for. Eventually, the frozen peas trick plus elevating my knees on a stack of pillows and cuddly toys began to pay off. I was feeling beyond tired by then, but still somehow relaxed and peaceful. Arthritis finally took the hint that it wasn’t going to get any that night, and made an awkward, hesitant exit.
I hope you enjoyed that deeply moving love story- I’m sure we can all agree that it’s the kind of whirlwind romance that every 21-year-old girl dreams of. Have I learnt my lesson about pushing my body too hard? I can’t promise to be perfect- sometimes life is just too tempting, and I forget to honour my limits. We all make mistakes. But at least now I know that there are a lot of quiet, restful activities that I do really love doing, and hopefully that’ll help me slow it down a bit more often.
Wishing you a deeply romantic night in with yourself,
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(Any opinions expressed in Izzie’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Izzie’s blog constitutes medical advice.)