In Defense of Mac-n-Cheese

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. ~ William James

At this stage in my life there is so much commotion going on physically that I never am quite sure which way is up.  Between the diseases, the drugs, the unknown/undiagnosed issues, and just the daily hazards of living in this biological wonder I call my body, when something goes wrong it is incredibly difficult to troubleshoot the problem.  While I can’t control most of what’s raging inside me, occasionally I can; if having any control is a possibility, knowing the source of the problem is pretty crucial. When your health is a veritable pretzel, that is easier said then done.

The Lemons

For instance, as I started writing this blog I was suddenly overcome with an intense wave of nausea.  I had to go lie down, and as I did I started going over the possibilities.  In the past, had I gotten nauseous the possible causes would have likely been a) my impromptu lunch of leftover macaroni and cheese did not sit well, or b) I was coming down with something.  Easily solved by waiting a short time – if it passes and I feel better, I’m probably not getting sick, and I should pitch the mac-n-cheese.  If it persists, I stock up on chicken soup and orange juice and the mac-n-cheese lives another day.  Today however, the amount of possible causes is infinitely larger, making problem-solving considerably more challenging.  Was my nausea from a) said macaroni and cheese, b) me coming down with something, c) the occasional nausea that strikes inherently as a symptom of my RA, d) the Methotrexate hangover – though I had no problem most of the day today, e) the newest drug in my arsenal, Savella, which I started an increased dose of yesterday…  the list goes on and on.

So figuring out which front the assault is coming from, in the hopes of stopping said assault in the future, tends to be a fruitless pursuit more often than not.

Aside from my bout of nausea today, I have several other items to add to the ‘not my usual M.O.’ list.  I’m back to not sleeping again; most nights, no matter how exhausted I am, I lie awake until about four in the morning.  Big bummer, since for a few weeks there I was actually sleeping the minute my head hit the pillow, which was awesome.  When my Viking’s alarm goes off at seven, sometimes I’m up and wide awake, seemingly impervious to the lack of sleep; once in a while I see him out the door and immediately crash for several hours to make up for lost time.  And more often than not, I get up and push myself through most of the day, only to give in around two or three in the afternoon for a nap so I can make it the rest of the evening without feeling like a wet dishrag.

I’ve also noticed a change in my appetite.  The last week I’ve had less and less of one, and want almost no meat at all.  Especially red meat – I can stomach a few bites of chicken or shrimp as long as it’s not much, but that’s about it.  When I’m hungry lately I tend to crave either a salad, a small helping of rice or pasta, or maybe a sandwich.  Fruit too, I’ve had watermelon, pineapple, and strawberries this week, and they really hit the spot.  I’m also a lot more thirsty, and nothing cuts it but water.  Lots of it.  Thankfully my body hasn’t totally lost it; a chocolate cupcake is still pretty awesome, so there’s probably no need for panic.

The Lemonade

So, obviously I report these changes I experience to my doctor when I see him.  I have no way of knowing if I’m housing malicious macaroni and cheese, but it was tasty so I guess I’ll take my chances with it.  The real issue (mentally) boils down to the lack of control, and how frustrating that can be.  Since I am a reformed control freak still working on the finer points of actually being ‘reformed’, sometimes it’s a little hard to take.  It is an awesome teaching tool for one of the key survival aspects needed when dealing with chronic illness though; acceptance.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay the importance of knowing your body, or being able to differentiate some of the various problems you encounter…  but the fact is that there are a great many things out of your control when you have a chronic illness; learning to be okay with that, while difficult, makes day-to-day living much more pleasant.

Being awake until four in the morning gives you a lot of time to pursue other adventures.  Reading for fun, educating myself, and finding new iPhone games to become addicted to have helped fill in those hours some.  I now have a Sims version of myself to carry in my pocket, complete with a dog, my Viking, a position as a scientist, and no health problems whatsoever.

As for my appetite, fruit, salads, and water are pretty healthy things to crave.  My weight (which due to another condition has never been ‘normal’) has fluctuated immensely since my RA diagnosis.  When I say immensely I mean I’ve bounced around within a 65 pound range, scaling both well above and under what *my* typical normal is.  Right now I’m at the high end of the above, so as long as I’m eating enough to not endanger myself, maybe I can swing back the other direction for a bit.

In the end the tastiest glass of lemonade comes in the form of less pain.  Even if these new symptoms are from the increase/change in meds, the increased Methotrexate and/or Savella seem to be helping. While I’m far from out of pain, the levels are significantly less than they were for some time, which is an absolute Godsend.  If the trade off turns out to be a vampiric schedule and a vegetarian diet, I guess I’ll have to accept and adjust. :)