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The Old Lady in My Bones

A Balancing Act

DSC_2794 (2)I spent some of my early childhood in a modest rural area. It was a wondrous time – instead of growing up in the luminous glow of a computer screen, I spent my days outside in the wooded paths and parks that surrounded our quiet cul-de-sac. It was a fearless time where I learned to test the limits of my fledgling agility and developed a rapport with the landscape surrounding me. I loved to test my balance by walking on fences, railings, road curbs, and the perilous edges of the ravine that bordered the park. I imagined myself a gymnast defying the narrow body of the balance beam or a circus performer walking the high wire. In the woods behind our house the fallen tree trunks provided the perfect bridge over murky puddles after a rainfall. If I fell one way, I landed in mud; if I fell the other way, I landed in the fresh dew-kissed grass.

This playful skill followed me into adulthood where I learned that life itself is a constant balancing act, tilting between work and family, school and play, wellness and disease. Walking the line of chronic illness can be a slippery ordeal. Every day I warily place one foot in front of the other, wondering which way I will tip – some days I tilt towards the flickering flames of RA, other days towards the soothing spring of wellness. I will have three mighty days of grace before tumbling into the chasm of illness; I will have two days of unceasing flaring and then four days of absolution. This is the repetitive balancing act of life with RA. The good days blissfully lull me into a false haven, where I feel divine, dancing and twirling on my wire, forgetting that it only takes one bad step to slip and plunge into the woven net below. I forget I am not as young as I was, not as fit as I was, not as healthy as I was.

I have to always be prepared to recover my balance. In my childhood days, it was all about the thrill of the challenge – would I make it all the way across without falling? Now it’s about the necessity of survival. I have battled this disease for almost six years. I have come to know it like my own reflection in the mirror. I bear its tantrums, and I celebrate its calmness. I have learned how it operates within the realm of my body. I’m not as surprised as I used to be when I wake up with an unexpected flare after three glorious days; I’m also not as defeated. I know that when I fall, I will land into a net woven with the thread of others who have fallen before me. There I can rest and linger for a bit, before picking up my balancing stick and making another attempt at that wobbly trek between health and wellness.

I never know until I take that first step if I will be walking along a delicate wire or strutting along a solid beam. There will be days I will tip, but not fall – these are the days I find diamonds in the granite. I have walked between fear and poise, anger and calm, happiness and sadness, heaviness and lightness. Every time I step out onto that wire, I am reminded of the things I can achieve in the sphere of my new limitations. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I prance, and sometimes I crawl but nevertheless, I walk that wire every day.

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.

Discussion

9 thoughts on “A Balancing Act

  1. Nice post J.G. Life most certainly is a balancing act. I wonder what kind of life kids have these days… doesn’t seem like much of one to me… Like yourself, I grew up with the great outdoor rather than the glimmering screen.

    Posted by Kev | October 26, 2015, 8:08 am
  2. Thank you. I am still finding my balance after a lot of life changes (a move, career change, my mom’s death, health problems), and i find that I need to start over every day. (I think I spent months with that feeling of “almost falling.”) Right now, life feels exactly like a balancing act.

    Posted by One Candle | October 26, 2015, 10:03 am
  3. That’s exactly how I feel about RA. It’s walking a high wire. Here’s hoping you stay balanced!

    Posted by Irma | October 30, 2015, 7:43 am
  4. I love this post. Life is a balancing act whether living with disease or not and like you, time makes it easier.

    Posted by Cathy | October 30, 2015, 9:50 am

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