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The Old Lady in My Bones

Navigational Training

DSC_1816It was my first time in a new city alone. I hailed a cab from the airport and gave the driver the address. We weaved and bobbed through pockets of congested streets darkened by looming skyscrapers. I stepped out of the cab clutching my bag, catching scant glimpses of sky between soaring buildings. The air was thick with harried energy and the heat of idling cars. The familiar open energy of my small west coast city was miles away. I walked past several identical looking structures, searching for signs at each intersection. I pulled a map from my bag, watching its neatly compressed structure explode into a large pleated grid. Lakes, roads, and land masses swelled before my eyes. I studied it, finding my path through the myriad of pathways skirting the inner city. My joints pulsed with the pounding rhythm of the city as I snaked my way through the throng towards my destination.

Travelling to a new place can be a bit mystifying – so can weaving your way through the streets of chronic illness. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were maps for arthritis? You could plot out comfortable routes to avoid the mountain of inflammation or the canyon of flares, and travel nonstop to the cave of respite. Unfortunately, arthritis isn’t designed that way. Arthritis is more like an erratic taxi driver leading a perplexed tourist down endless streets, taking longer than necessary to reach their destination. Each new ailment will have you wandering down a road beset with four-way stops at every corner without any indication of which direction to take. It’s frustrating, never knowing which way to turn. How do I recognize a flare? How do I manage fatigue? How often should I see my specialist? How long will my medication take to work? What are my new limitations? The questions come quicker than answers. In an impatient world rocked by the convenience of technology, it’s difficult to accept that it takes a while to adjust to the ebb and flow of life with RA. Arthritis never manifests exactly the same way. We need to take up the responsibility of creating our own compass through the roads of our disease. It can take some time to find the rhythm. Along the way, you will intersect with others, adding to the continually developing range of your journey. You will learn to ride the swells and dips of disease as effortlessly as a flat wide-open country road.

It took time to find my way, but after a while, I became accustomed to the new territory of my life. And I have faith that one day, I’ll have the chance to stray off the course of my regular path and travel into that unchartered territory known as the state of remission. I’ll have to learn how to navigate all over again – but this time I know I’ll enjoy the journey.





About J.G. Chayko

I am a writer living on the beautiful West Coast in Vancouver B.C. I am a poet at heart but also write prose, fiction and creative non-fiction. In my thirties, while working for a Rheumatology clinic, I was diagnosed with early Rheumatoid Arthritis. I created " The Old Lady In My Bones" to share my experience living with this disease and to create an awareness that arthritis touches people of all ages, not just the elderly.


9 thoughts on “Navigational Training

  1. What a wonderful simile! May we all have first-class tickets to that state of remission! (The picture looks like the Las Vegas strip from one of the pedestrian sky bridges. But perhaps I’m just wishing …)

    Posted by Carla Kienast | April 12, 2015, 3:39 pm
    • Yes Carla, you’re right about the picture 🙂 My opening description was actually about another city, but I loved the slightly out of focus quality of this picture which seemed to exhibit that sense of bewilderment and wandering. I hope you are enjoying life and staying well. X

      Posted by J.G. Chayko | April 13, 2015, 8:07 am
  2. A lovely post and so true about navigating through a disease process. Not as much fun as finding your way around a new and exciting city. Would that there be a map pointing the right direction to go in both instances. Wishing you bon voyage in your journey towards the city of Remission.

    Posted by Irma | April 14, 2015, 9:34 am
  3. Beautiful writing, Julia.

    Here’s to enjoying your journey!

    Posted by Marianna | May 11, 2015, 9:54 am
  4. I like the way you can weave an experience in life like your first time in a new city and use it almost metaphorically as a way to relate to your illness. Well done. J.G!

    Posted by Kev | June 13, 2015, 8:25 am
    • Thank you 🙂 I see you’ve been keeping busy with the world of authors and writing. Hope all is well with you and your family. Cheers.

      Posted by J.G. Chayko | June 14, 2015, 10:35 am
      • I have J.G. But I’ve just started a new blog that focuses on my life at home with Pat and the cats… I’m also going to be incorporating music and poetry there later. To keep it all separate from my author’s blog.

        Posted by Kev | June 14, 2015, 1:20 pm

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