It really is pretty amazing when you think about it. Just about seven weeks ago I was in a pretty dark and desolate place, dealing with the gradual recurrence of my RA over the course of the summer. My right knee was consistently swollen and range and function was somewhat impaired, the persistent and constant neck and back pain was back, I wasn't sleeping very well and I was pretty darn down in general.
I'd spent the entire year with the goal of being in the best shape possible for the now in progress cyclocross season. The early summer fitness was really good and the numbers were all looking promising. We'd decided to pare way back on racing over the summer and only do those events that we really enjoyed and fit well with the schedule. No pressure and no stress and with luck, no burnout.
Long story short, the RA symptoms re-emerged in early June, right after I'd started a new job and went from a no stress existence that had me up and active all day to the stress of a new job and being sedate for nine plus hours a day straight. As soon as I recognized the symptoms my concern arose. Unfortunately rather than improving over the summer with the advent of some lesser treatments, the progression continued, much like the initial onset years back. By late summer it was a constant, daily issue and we'd decided on a more aggressive treatment approach, the same approach I'd been on prior to 2012. However getting that treatment, due to the cost and dealing with insurance and pharmacy hoops, delayed the start past where I'd been hoping for.
I knew, based on my previous experience, that the meds worked quickly. Afterall, they act by shutting down the immune system response that is causing the problem to being with. However, my concern now was that I'd been unable to complete the big block of really high end training that I'd planned for just before the cross season started. Effectively, I was pretty bummed that I'd missed the window and would have to start the season both still with lingering issues and without the fitness I'd hoped for. Couple this with the self induced pressure I'd been adding on performing well this year especially, since I'd moved to the masters 45+ field and I was concerned.
Incredible how quickly things can change, what with the spring being absolutely incredible for many reasons; not working and getting to do a ton of projects that I'd been dreaming of completing for years, riding like crazy and getting some good results and great fitness. I was definitely riding a high at that point. With highs there are unfortunately lows. I didn't realize the oscillation would be so severe or so quick though.
Lets keep things in perspective, to add a political analogy, it's like the difference between Democrat and Republican in the US in terms of the entire political scale. Our two dramatically different parties are separated only by minor issues that you could count on one hand, really its only a couple of issues where they have minor differences if you look at the larger picture. Every freshman learned that in political science in college. Drop our bi-partisan system into the full political spectrum, a good graphic is a timeline, and then you have a perspective. In reality, this is similar to my issues. In the grand scheme, I don't have issues. The fact that my biggest concern is not racing as well as I'd hoped because I have minor health issues is really pretty weak, given that the majority of other people out there, in other areas of the world as well as domestically, have real issues to deal with. But the reality is, we are not those other people and perspective is ones own.
As quickly as things can change one way, they can change again. I'm back on the meds and as expected, they made an almost immediate difference. The neck and back pain was the first to go, almost overnight. Gradually over a few weeks the knee swelling subsided and now the toe issue is on the mend. The constant, nagging aches are a memory, almost a bad dream. The fitness is starting to return and the results are respectable. Things are back to the somewhat artificial normal of being back on meds, which may be as good as it will get, at least for now.
I've got to say, in the grand scheme, I'm pretty lucky for many, many reasons. My issues are minor and are controllable. My life is darn near perfect, which I've realized for a long while. I'm very fortunate and although it is sometimes difficult to see because of life's little detours, I do see that, and am thankful.