When I arrived back from Europe on October 24, I was exhausted and sleep-deprived. But I’m pretty compulsive about cleanliness and set to work putting the house in order. With four male roommates, the kitchen counter had become storage, and there was no room to prepare food. The floors and counters were dusty, and the library floor was stacked with books. I had rented out my room, and wanted to clean it thoroughly, dusting all surfaces. So I spent a week on my knees, scrubbing and sweeping. Then I turned my attention to the yard, which had grown into an ugly tangled mess, as my housemate had mistakenly set the water system for four times a day. Some plants had died from overwater, while others had grown leggy, with the Bermuda grass doing the best and expanding its footprint. I’d inherited this lovely weed from my father, a legacy of the days that he may have used it for hardy lawn material. Unfortunately, too hardy. My ex and I spent hours trimming trees and bushes and doing our best to pull oak seedlings and Bermuda grass out by the roots. While I no longer have lawn, the Bermuda grass has taken up residence around many plants, especially ones with spray rather than drip.
In any case, I pulled and yanked until I felt a horrible electric shock ricochet from my elbow to my shoulder, after which my arm was useless. It’s been two and a half months, and I finally started getting PT from Tom, who specializes in shoulder injuries. After a month of treatment, I can move the arm without aid from the other, most of the time.
When it rains, it pours. In October, I started experiencing knee pain. I thought it was due to sleeping on the back seat of a Mini Cooper the last 3 weeks of my trip. But when I arrived back in Sunnyvale, not only did my knees ache to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed, but my ankles, feet, wrists, fingers, and hands began to ache and swell. I had hoped to finish my travel blog but couldn’t use the keyboard longer than a few minutes without howling in pain. I got scared. I have had diffuse systemic scleroderma since 2002, and have lived in the shadow of the fear that it might return with a vengeance at any moment. This was the moment of reckoning. I got in touch with Lesley, my acupuncturist, and Richard, my naturopath, and we set up a protocol. I’ve been downing supplements and powders non-stop for the last 2 months, and am finally seeing results. Some of the swelling in my hands has gone down, and my knees no longer ache. I was upset by blood test results taken a few days ago which showed elevated C reactive protein (inflammation marker) and ESR (sedimentation rate). Not surprising, but I get scared when the numbers corroborate my symptoms. Especially because it’s been years since my levels were stable.
Time to go inward and find the healing mechanisms that I drew from years ago. A friend recently sent me an article about CBD helping with scleroderma, but failed to edit out the part about expected life spans. Panicked, I emailed Lesley, who wrote a heart-warming note which I keep near my computer: “You have lived with this a LOOOOONG time and have gotten better. You will continue to do so. You defy statistics!” May we all.