People always ask me, “What does it feel like having arthritis?” Part of me appreciates that people seem to want to develop a deeper understanding for what it’s like living with arthritis, but part of me wants to tell them that the answer is probably something they don’t want to hear.
What does it feel like to have arthritis? It feels like all my joints have conspired against me, and they fire off missiles of pain randomly. It’s trying to remember what it was like to wake up in the morning and not have to take a handful of pills just to relieve enough of the pain to get out of bed. And when I do get up and try to move on with my day, there’s no telling when the pain will hit. There’s no way to know how or when it will happen, but it will. It’s the uncertainty of it all that I struggle with the most.
I’m so tired all the time, and thirsty, and frustrated, and tired again. But that tiredness doesn’t just come from the pain. It comes from the many visits to doctors and physicians who tell me about all the alternative medicines and practices that I should consider. Medical marijuana comes up a lot, but with that comes with having to get a medical card, and to get a medical card I have to go through the application process and to go through the application process I have to go through the qualification process. I’m tired just thinking about it.
I’ve tried other treatments. Anything that involves physically moving my body as a treatment is hard. When it hurts to move, doctors often advise you to try and keep moving, but moving is honestly the last thing I want to do. Pills and other medicines are another option but I’m terrified I will become addicted and drugged out all the time. Back to the drawing board.
Today my doctor told me about TENS units. He said it stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, and it works by sending stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin. “It’s supposed to electrocute me?” I ask. “Not exactly, it’s meant to help alleviate pain not shock you into more,” he said.
Now I’m curious, so I decided to do some research of my own. When I surfed for information I learned about things like an E.M.S. device, which stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. It’s supposed to help with reducing or weak muscles. I read about other TENS units and muscle stimulators. One article I read says that TENS units help interrupt pain signals by competing with them. I’m all too happy with the idea of interrupting my pain, it’s been interrupting me for years. Might be nice to give it a taste of its own medicine.
I call my doctor and tell him I’m interested. He thinks that it’s going to be something that’s really going to help, and that makes me hopeful. I haven’t felt hopeful in a while, but it’s a nice change. I could definitely get used to this feeling.