I was the ultimate morning person. Mornings belonged to me – they were the most peaceful and productive part of my day. There’s nothing else quite like waking to a red sky burning along the horizon, the staccato rhythm of rain drumming on the roof, the chipper melodies of the birds and whisper of light breezes stroking the leaves. I would sit on my patio, after the satisfying burn of a workout, hot coffee in hand, watching the curl of steam rise up out of the hot liquid into a new dawn. Afternoons were always prone to lethargy and I could always plod through them with a shot of espresso or a breath of fresh air, but mornings were the most stimulating part of my day.
Then RA came along and stole them from me. My body sunk into the swamp of perpetual fatigue, protesting at every movement. I went from bouncy and energetic to lazy and sluggish, my body riddled with the stale heat of inflammation. My mind was alert but my body wasn’t. I would open my eyes and see the daylight streaming through the curtains, hear the fluttering animation outside my window, and inhale the rich fragrance of coffee brewing in the kitchen. The list of all the things I wanted to accomplish ran through my mind like a ticker-tape parade and yet, my body rebelled against movement. My legs mired in the cement of fatigue, it took an enormous effort to pull my sore stiff body from bed. I couldn’t make my joints function, I couldn’t ignite the spark to thrust me into the day.
I have lived with this disease long enough to recognize its capricious machinations, but one thing that never changes is how I feel the first thing in the morning. It’s that regularity that will help me cheat RA and, bit by bit, take back my mornings. It starts with opening my eyes. I take a few moments to assess the situation – flex an ankle, stretch a knee, bend my fingers. I breathe in and sit up. I am already halfway there. I am weary and stiff, the cool morning assaulting my rigid joints, making them want to shrink back into the warmth of my bed. But I am already in motion and this is the most difficult part – once I can start moving and warm up, the rest of me will follow suit. I do the slow shuffle to the bathroom, and then to the kitchen – some mornings require a hot bath and gentle yoga; other mornings just some stepping and stretching will do. RA tries to steal our mornings from us but I am determined to reclaim them. I don’t have to engage in intense exercise or run marathons – all I have to do is stand up, move around, and focus on the goals of my day and, once again, recharge in the pastel light of daybreak.
I haven’t let RA stop me from my aspirations. Why should my mornings be any different? For all we have to sacrifice, don’t we deserve to enjoy the bare necessities of life? All the exquisite moments that only the mornings can deliver – the ginger blush of sunlight burning through the soft mist of a new dawn, the stillness of the serenity of home before the hum of traffic and the frantic activity of the outside world takes over, indulge in that bit of private time just for me to blend the colors of my day. It won’t be easy. There will be mornings that I will not want to get out of bed, but then I would miss out on all the delightful wonders we breathe into an exquisite world. I am ready to reclaim my mornings and I hope that you too will find those cherished days to share with me.