The painful joints and a weak grasp from lupus arthritis is making doing simple tasks quite challenging today. Swollen joints in my thumbs and fingers hurt with every movement. I feel it with the pressure against my joints from tying my tennis shoes, pouring from the coffee pot, and even brushing my hair and teeth. This is just one more way that lupus pops up each day unannounced to make ordinary life a little bit of an adventure.
Coping with the pain successfully depends somewhat on my perspective toward it.
Joint pain in my hands is a subtle sign of increasing flare of my lupus. It is accompanied by increased pain in counterpart joints in both feet. My CNS lupus symptoms are also slightly increased, and today’s morning mental fog is lingering longer than normal. These are some “joys” of the unknown adventure lupus brings into each morning!
Yet, for me, feeling the places that hurt is a somehow a blessing. How can my pain truly be a blessing?
I remind myself of a morning 25 years ago. That day we were driving in the car and had a terrible accident. I had just unbuckled my seat belt to take off a jacket in the hot July morning. As I flew forward toward my sudden head-on encounter with a windshield, in a millisecond I thought of my husband in the seat beside me, and my babies in carseats behind me. Strapped in and safe, they would be okay. Then, coming back to myself, my thoughts snapped God-ward with resignation, “here I come.”
That instant of impact took my consciousness, but could have instead taken away my life, or at least all the control and feeling in my limbs and body in that brief moment. Today, three damaged cervical vertebrae bear ongoing witness of that morning, as they remain herniated and one presses slightly into the sheath of my spinal cord. This old injury still gives me some trouble and some pain, but is definitely treatable and manageable. It could have been so much worse!
The fact that I now feel every pain sometimes in both of my shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers and also in both hips, knees, ankles, feet and all my toes is a testimony to the fact that God was truly gracious to me that day. Somehow, in mercy and kindess He softened the blow. Perhaps, God even dispatched an unseen angel to shield my airborne body the instant my forehead hit the windshield at 50 miles per hour. This is what I like to imagine about how I escaped death and incapacitating injury.
So, even pain with its unwelcome challenges is to some small degree a blessing to me. Not fun, to be certain, but pain is far better than the other possible options I faced as a result of that day! I would rather feel pain now, and cope with it, than to feel nothing! Even the adventure of pain is somehow made fully acceptable through this perspective.
So, even though this may not seem to make complete logical sense to everyone else, sometimes a small “thank you” goes out from my grateful heart to my Creator because of the pain I feel. Sometimes, I remember to thank Him quietly for allowing me to still be able to feel pain in my body, and especially for still being able to use my hurting limbs. I thank Him that I can feel the pain, but still function.
So, I get up and start moving those nagging joints. This eases the joint pain, makes them stronger, and gently gets my circulation going to stir up vitality.
Yes, I have ambiguity. Still wishing sometimes that my pain would go away, I also remember sometimes to be thankful I can feel the places in my body that hurt. My outlook on each day’s pain sometimes depends entirely on which perspective I choose!