Something truly terrifying happened to me yesterday.
I fell in the shower.
Now for a “normal,” healthy person, this might not seem like such a big deal. You fall, you get back up, no harm, no fowl.
But for me, because I have rheumatoid arthritis, it is a big deal.
Since I was diagnosed with RA, I have had this pathological fear of breaking my hip, specifically, slipping in the shower and breaking my hip.
My right hip is one body part that is significantly affected by my RA.
And everything I hear about older people breaking their hips is that it is not an easy injury to come back from.
Thankfully, I landed on my elbows – my second most impacted body part affected by RA – and not my hip.
But let me tell you, even though I didn’t get hurt “hurt”, getting up wasn’t an easy thing to do. Thanks, no less, to RA.
And now I’m afraid of the shower.
In reality, I stepped too far back and hit the rounded part of the tub. (Makes me think a stall shower might be a good idea in my next apartment…) There was no stopping it. The fall was inevitable. Although, thankfully, the injury, wasn’t. I got really lucky.
Again, this might not have had such a big impact on me if I had slipped in the shower and didn’t have RA.
I think when most people think of arthritis, they think of someone having arthritis in one joint that they take Tylenol for, and that’s it.
Most people don’t realize that, in the case of RA, it is systemic. It can affect every joint system in the body.
So for those of us who have arthritis, it isn’t only arthritis.
For those parts of my body that are affected, I fear that an injury could exacerbate it and that I could potentially lose function and mobility. Hence why injuring my already damaged hip would be devastating. For those parts that are less or not at all affected, I fear that an injury could cause arthritis to begin or get worse. This has already happened to me with my ankle after a freak injury I had last summer, so this prospect is very real and very scary.
RA has an impact on everything I do (including taking a shower).
What I experienced yesterday was one of my worst fears. Maybe it sounds lame, but it is what it is. I saw the fall happening in slow motion and there was nothing I could do but let it happen, or risk really getting hurt. It was like grasping for straws.
So while my pride – even though I was alone and no one other than me saw it happen – is injured, thankfully my body really isn’t.
Of course, I will shower again…eventually…
But I hope that this can be a lesson to those without arthritis, that it isn’t a “but it’s only” type of thing. Arthritis can have drastic and long-lasting effects. It impacts what you do and how you do it, what you think about and how you think, what you fear, and what drives you forward toward the future.