The Joint Pain Is Eating Me

Last night was one of those nights with terrible joint pain. I could physically palm pockets of fluid around the subcutaneous joints like my knees and elbows. It’s like big squishy balls of swelling on either side of the actual bony contact of the joint. For example, on the right and left side of the knee cap, there’s a puffy pouch of fluid buildup. In the right lighting, I can actually watch the circulation through my knees because they pulse pink and then the pale yellow of my skin tone as blood moves in and out with each heartbeat. It sounds like an intriguing party trick, but not only do I rarely attend parties, I also suffer the gripping pain that’s associated with it. I had to take ibuprofen last night to take the edge off the throbbing pain. Although I avoid all NSAIDs because they upset my stomach and are known to be detrimental to the kidneys, it was worth it yesterday to reduce my agony to a level of moderate pain.

Ben went out for the night to check out a show in Hartford with a cool drummer. I missed him, but his absence actually makes it easier to sleep because the appeal that if I stay awake, I get to see him is removed. It seems to encourage my brain to sleep by assuring me I’m not missing out on anything at all. After the ibuprofen kicked in, I slept pretty soundly for three hours, only rising once to use the bathroom. I was able to fall back asleep after that, though once the medicine wore off about four hours after taking it, I was again wide awake in horrendous pain. I tried to fall asleep for two hours. Eventually, I had to take a Tylenol to diminish the pain again to tolerable levels that I could override and manage to fall asleep. I hate that I had to take medicines, but without them, sleep was clearly going to be impossible. One ibuprofen and one Tylenol gave me roughly 5.5 hours of sleep. Hopefully, because of that good rest I got, I’ll feel well enough today to have an enjoyable day.

I must say, with all the technological advances and discoveries that have advanced the way healthcare is practiced and the medical field’s knowledge of diseases and diagnostic procedures, there are still so many patients, such as myself, who don’t have a diagnosis, effective treatment program, or even a workable plan to make daily life more tolerable. Although I’m not always the most proactive patient, it’s also not like I completely bury my head and don’t seek medical help for my symptoms. I’m constantly seeing doctors and usually they just scratch their heads and tell me to return in six weeks or six months. That time simply serves as waiting time; nothing is prescribed or tried during those weeks to assess its efficacy. I’m just sent on my way with the same problems I entered the office with but now with one fewer potential door to try for answers and help. It’s a depressing cycle that would cause even the most optimistic patient to lose hope in the medical system and the journey to getting better. Meanwhile, every appointment is a few hours of lost time and at least a $30 copay down the drain. In some cases, it’s lost time off for Ben too. What a drag.

The joint pain is still aggressively persistent this morning. The throbbing continues with every beat of my heart. The swelling is marginally better, though that’s probably from lying flat all night instead of being upright. In the dependent position, gravity makes the swelling in the lower limb joints especially pronounced by the end of the day. I’m starting from a much worse starting point today than yesterday, so I’m understandably dreading the pain and edema tonight. I’m not even sure what is causing this flare-up (contamination, stress, illness, or random act of nature). Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter since I don’t have viable treatments for any potential cause. Mental strength, patience, and ice (and the occasional nighttime analgesic) is all that I can do. Oh, and pray for a miracle or a change in luck with doctors. I guess those are ultimately one in the same.

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