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Friday, March 2, 2012

Small victories

2012 has been a bit of a rough ride so far.

About mid-January, I started experiencing pain in my joints. It started pretty specific, mainly in my knees and in of my hand knuckles. I didn't go to the doctor right away. I began regularly taking ibuprofen for inflammation and I bought joint supplements. I also {mistakenly} started doing research on WebMD... not that WebMD is bad in and of itself, but if you're like me you start reading about one illness after another and suddenly you've diagnosing yourself with all kinds of problems. I since have cut myself off from WedMD.

Oh the pain! Strangely, it migrates around... my left elbow one day, my right wrist another, my left shoulder on yet another, then a couple days later the other shoulder, the middle finger in my right hand, the pinky toe joint of my left foot... Some days are so bad that it hurts to simply walk, write my name or put on my coat, let alone dance.

So, what the heck is going on?? Still don't know. I finally went to the doctor and his initial assessment was arthritis. This might seem crazy as I'm not old but it's a legit possibility. My dad has rheumatoid arthritis, as did my grandmother, so the genetic predisposition is there. But he wasn't entirely convinced as my symptoms are asymmetrical and inconsistent - arthritis usually starts in the small joints such as the hands or feet, not the knees, and are equally on both sides of the body. So he ordered some blood tests. He tested me for all kinds of things, including lupus and a bunch of other things I'd never heard of. My blood work was normal. Well, the rheumatoid factor was the highest out of all, but it's still within the "normal" range. Now he's sending me to a joint specialist to see if he can figure me out.

I have three and a half more weeks of waiting until that appointment. The specialist was booked six weeks from when I called to make the appointment. Awesome, six more weeks of mysterious pain.

It has been really, really hard dealing with this. Like I said, it's so difficult to even want to dance when simple everyday movement is painful. But I push through. My dad told me that the best thing for arthritis, if that's what it is, is to keep active. So I take my supplements, my ibuprofen, I take my Epsom baths and sleep with a heating pad, and I keep showing up to class. Some days I have to back off and dance lightly, but other days I force a smile as I pliƩ and pirouette. I will not give up.

Everyday in class we do a series of stretches after we've completed all of the barre exercises. In one stretch, we're standing on one leg as our other leg is bent in front of us, resting up on the barre. We then take our foot in our hand, extend our leg forward up off the barre and then bring it around to the side of our bodies. The goal is to hold that leg up at 180° - very few are there. However, ladies and gents, yesterday I pulled my right leg around to the side and it was pretty damn close. Maybe 170°...? I did not expect that but I was so happy. And that little victory made my heart soar above all the pain and frustration I've been dealing with for the last 8 weeks.

I will not give up.



  1. Oh dear! So sorry you are going through a rough time physically. For someone who dances so much, having joint pain must be really frustrating! Hope all goes well and your tests come back clean and healthy!

    And yes, WebMD is the devil. The number of times I have 'diagnosed' myself with something awful ... the joys of information at our finger tips!

    Well done on reaching 170! That takes some serious skills!

  2. I'm so sorry. I hope they're able to fix it!