Happy New Years?
What? Everyone is done celebrating the New Year? Unlike everyone who celebrated the New Year on the first of January, I wasn’t physically or mentally up for celebrating it until last weekend. Just before Christmas my psoriatic arthritis started coming out of remission. At the same time a few of my other conditions also decided to flare. Four weeks of being bed bound may drive some people crazy, but sadly it’s something that I have grown accustomed to. Last week I could tell that this spell was nearing an end. It was at this point that leaving the house only for appointments or to grab groceries now and then started to bother me.
The reason it didn’t bother me during the worst parts of my flare is because I have little memory of those weeks. As the severity of my flare began to decrease, I found myself finally able to think more clearly and that’s when I realized how little I remembered of the past four weeks. The average person, when asked what they did for the past four weeks, would probably respond with a list of things they did. I struggled to remember anything, including the few outings I did have. For example, I couldn’t remember if I had gone to church on Christmas Eve. I honestly could not remember. While resting in bed I looked over to my closet and saw a skirt that I had bought in December. The skirt triggered a memory of wearing it once. Then I remembered that I had purchased it for Christmas, so I realized that I must have attended church on Christmas Eve. But yet I still couldn’t recall who was there or which service I attended. This troubled me as I have been attending the same church for over 6 years! So I forced myself to concentrate harder. Finally after what felt like hours, I was able to recall what I wore, which service I attended, the faces of a few people and that it was on this day that I burnt my back with a heat wrap. But that is it. I still can’t recall who I spoke with or sat next to. Out of those four weeks, I can barely recall 5 days.
While troubling, this memory loss or lapse doesn’t have me too concerned. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. When riding out multiple flares my mind tries to shield me from the pain. Physical pain is not just exhausting for my body, but also my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one reason that I have no choice but to sleep throughout most of my severe flares. It is also not uncommon for one’s mind to block or repress a memory of a traumatic moment. Unfortunately for me, it isn’t just a moment; it can be days or weeks at time. Maybe one reason I am not overly concerned about not being able to recall more of the past month is that I don’t want to remember the pain I felt. I am just thankful to be past that, at least for now.
So last week, with less physical pain and a clearer head, I was ready to start my New Year! My family and I spent a day at Disneyland. Mentally, it was something I desperately needed, however I wasn’t physically ready for such an outing. I set myself back a bit, but thankfully I am still on the road of reaching my normal pain level. I just hope and pray that it will be a long time until all my conditions decide to flare together again.
What the average person doesn’t realize is that time spent out of bed isn’t the only thing I lose during a severe or cluster flare. Is it any wonder that I never know what day it is? There is so much more to living with chronic conditions than physical pain. They attack every ounce and inch of my body, mind and soul. Like I said, this is nothing new; it is just not something that I normally share with others. And after 16 years, it is just one more complication due to my conditions that I have come to accept. Also before any friends or family members begin to worry that I am losing my mind, be assured that the moments of memories lost during the past 16 years are only from periods when flares collided or my pain was higher than it had ever been before. I share this information not to challenge my friends and family to test my brain, but to share what living with my conditions is really like. This type of memory loss is not to be confused with moments of brain fog that takes place often because of my conditions, it is very different and I will be addressing the difference in a future post. While hesitant to share this aspect, I know that if people like me don’t share this type of information, many others with the same conditions may never know that they are not the only ones experiencing it. With that said, have you suffered memory loss due to your chronic conditions?
Whether you have already celebrated the New Year or are still waiting to, I wish you all a blessed New Year filled with gentle hugs and many reasons for smiling!