“I’m only going to say this once; will you stick by me?”
Sometimes there’s no controlling it. That outburst; the rush of fear and sadness, the pressure you’ve been keeping safe inside bursting out and smothering everything around you, leaving you breathless, unable to make sense of the words, unable to do the most basic tasks without messing up and descending into a spiral of unnecessary apologies.
You forget to breathe.
This afternoon, I buried myself under the duvet. Breathed in the lavender-and-chamomile linen spray on the pillows and the slight scent of S’s hair where he’d slept earlier. We woke late; by the time S whispered and nudged me into consciousness it was past 3pm. He lay in bed in his pyjama bottoms and blue jumper, reading and chatting to me as I tried to force myself out of an uncommonly deep sleep, wandering from bathroom to kitchen, making coffee and wrapping myself in my still-damp dressing gown. The coffee didn’t help. Encouragement from S achieved nothing. I just wanted to stay curled up, as though I could hibernate right through winter and spring, only surfacing when the world didn’t seem quite so dull.
Sleep didn’t come last night; when I finally crawled into bed next to S and snuggled into his armpit, daylight was coming through the blinds. I’d been thinking, and smoking. And thinking a little more.
For almost a year, I’ve been saying I’m ready for the bad news on my heath. I’ve wanted to know why my body has failed me, and I’ve craved, begged, pleaded for a reason behind it all. In this blog, I’ve gone from “I have fibromyalgia” to “something’s not right”, and now… now things really aren’t right.
Six days ago, the pain in my ankle and foot came back, worse than ever. A stabbing, searing, ripping pain which took up all my energy. I had a mild cold, so that became the culprit for a while; it was easier to blame a virus than accept what the pain returning probably meant. However, the cold is gone now but the pain remains. Co-codamol doesn’t help. Dope only does so much to relax my ankle. There’s no way of distracting myself, no dissociation I can use to find relief; it feels like somebody is twisting a knife in my foot, and each movement, each millimetre my toes twitch, they dig the knife in a little further.
They explained this at my last orthopeadics appointment, that the cortisone injection was a diagnostic as well as a pain reliever (yeah, because that bit worked well), and if the pain returned in around two weeks, there would have to be an operation. Just an outpatient one, to remove the synovial tissue in my ankle. That doesn’t bother me; after the needle from Hell they injected the cortisone with. What bothers me is that the pain returning means that it’s not as simple as a bit of arthritis and a damaged tendon; it means that something’s happening in my body to cause an inflammatory response.
It’s sort of the final nail in the coffin for RA.
This is my foot now. I’m not bragging when I say I used to have beautiful feet; sure, my toes have always been a little too long, but they’ve always been slim and well-shaped. Now… my toes curl under. The effort of keeping them straight is too much now, and too painful. I have bumps on the sides of my toes, and when I’m relaxed they curl together. Sometimes I have to reach down and untangle one toe from behind another, because I can’t straighten them. They’re fat and misshapen.
It’s a strange day when you no longer recognise your own feet. Before moving in with S, I threw out a lot of my heels; I couldn’t comprehend ever wearing them again, and seeing their shiny patent leather and little bows and hearts and pointed toes… it depressed me. I live in knee-length boots now, with a low wedge heel and orthopaedic inserts. If I’m feeling brave, I’ll put trainers on… but I can’t walk far in them.
It’s such a simple thing. Footwear. And I feel cheated by not being able to choose anymore.