Not a Big Deal, Until You Experience it for Real
Many conditions of chronic illnesses are often glossed over, because they do not sound that painful or difficult to deal with, and the person may even look perfectly well! Are they just being lazy and faking it?!
Prior to experiencing these symptoms for myself, I might have been guilty of certain ignorant and unkind thoughts within the privacy of my mind:
1. Joint Aches
“It’s one of those little things that old people complain about. It’s just an ache, not even a ‘real’ disease, how bad can it really be?”
That was before I developed rheumatoid arthritis, and learned just how terribly wrong I could be. I learned that it isn’t just a ‘little’ pain, but a debilitating one that cripples you. Your elbows, knees, wrists, ankles and all other joints puff up into a sensitive, red swell, where the slightest alteration of angles or an accidental brush against any surface can trigger intense pain.
Simple tasks such as hailing a cab or fastening your bra question your physical abilities and mental stamina — your status as an adult human being.
Forget about ‘light’ exercises — you have trouble even walking to the bathroom. Someone I know suffered these horrid aches for four years, and she had to ‘climb’ up staircases by sitting and pushing her ass up one step at a time, every damn day.
2. Muscle Aches
“Is it like a muscular ache you get after exercising?” This is the most common question I get from curious friends (thank you for asking!).
“That muscular ache can feel quite good, actually!” Unfortunately, this muscular ache does not feel good in any remote sense of the word. In fact it is worse than the joint aches, for the sole reason that even strong painkillers do nothing to ease the pain.
But..what does it feel like? In all honesty, it feels as if there are thick nails pounding through your muscles deep into your bones, relentless in their drone-like repetition. It is severe enough to keep you up all night rocking your body in delirium while screaming for help.
3. Dry Eyes and/or Mouth
You’d probably imagine this to be more of an annoyance than anything else, but it can actually make a tremendous impact on the quality of your life.
Having dry, inflammed eyes is like having sand scratch against your eyeballs all day long. I used to bathe them in eye drops from morning to night, but the relief provided only lasted for that brief moment of contact.
Having a dry mouth is a bigger torture — a million tiny pins piercing through the surface of your tongue, throat, cheeks and lips, with a burning sensation, as if sucking on chilli, thrown in for good measure.
Who would have thought that moisture levels, which seems like something that could be easily restored either through natural or artificial means, could be so deceptive in its ability to cause pain?
It is not uncommon to be kept up by such conditions late into the night, and if you do manage to drift off to sleep, it is usually from the exhaustion that comes with enduring too much pain.
To the rest of you out there — what other symptoms or side effects did you think were ‘not such a big deal’ or a ‘lame excuse’, prior to experiencing them personally?
And to those who are curious about other symptoms — what else would you like us to try describing?
For More Insight:
1. Dry Eyes (article by Cleveland Clinic):