So you know the recent swelling I talked about in Friday's post? It's gone - completely! We went away for a few days after I noticed the swelling, and over the course of our relaxing, restful vacation - I watched as my swollen finger returned to normal. Watching the progress was amazing...with every hour of sleep, the swelling got better. Literally. After my first 3 hour nap...the swelling was down considerably. After my next 2 hour nap (same day), more progress. After almost 11 hours of sleep that first night (because Johnny got up with Deirdre and I slept in until almost 10am), the swelling was almost gone. The joint pain in that finger was still there...but it was such a relief to see my finger look normal again. By the end of our trip...the pain was gone, too.
It's amazing the cause and effect relationship that exists between stress-free living and disease inactivity. I was hyper focused on relaxing, and it worked. But staying attuned to my body made me realize just how anxious a flare up of lupus symptoms makes me. My initial reaction when I have any sort of flare up? Here we go again. I instantly prepare myself for a handful of swollen joints. I think of how adversely affected my activity level will be, how my ability to care for Deirdre will be hindered, and how my to-do lists will become more difficult to accomplish.
I then remind myself to stay positive (because that helps cancel out the nervousness), and to focus on the fact that one swollen finger doesn't have to lead to 10. This positive approach is paramount to my recovery - without hope, I don't do very well. Of course, this optimism has a catch. I have to be very careful not to fall into my old trap of being too positive (i.e. convincing myself that I can fight this thing by just continuing to carry on as I have been). I have to find just the right combination of thinking positively while reminding myself to be realistic. That is - that sheer willpower isn't go to reduce the swelling. Rest, relaxation, a clear head, a good diet, limited sun exposure (and, of course, my prescribed medication) are the keys. Guess that's why I devote a section of my book to Optimism. It can be a tricky attribute to deal with - especially when you're, well, an optimist!