Monday, January 30, 2012

Arthritic Old Lady ISO a good time....

DISCLAIMER: I'm going to try VERY hard to keep this post about arthritis and it's impact on my day to day life, and not to bring the dynamic between my Hubby and me into this.  I've sat on the post for a few days now, because I wasn't done being hurt and angry about the events of the evening in question.  I'm not sure I can do this, but the goal is not for an outcry of "jeez, what a jerk" responses.  OK?  Here goes.

Hubby's company has a tradition of doing their holiday party after the new year.  They like to spin it that it's easier to schedule that way, and I'm sure that plays into it, but the reality is, costs are significantly cheaper if you wait until after the peak holiday party season.  Last Friday night was the holiday party, and the theme was the Roaring 20's.

I like an opportunity to dress up.  On a good day, my morning routing includes brushing both my hair AND my teeth and looking in the mirror before I leave the house.  There have been days where I've arrived at the coffee shop across the street from work before some kind stranger points out "you have your shirt on inside out", or "did you know you have two different shoes on?" (The danger of too many pairs of crocs).  I don't spend time fussing with my hair or doing my makeup any more, mornings are crammed with dealing with BabyBoy's needs for the day and I take a backseat.  I was excited about the 20's theme, I had a new dress, a "fur" stole to wear with it, and I'd been reviewing makeup videos on youtube to figure out how to recreate that "20's look".

I even had a new pair of shoes, with a heel.  When I bought them, I had some doubts, but I've had decent luck with this particular brand in the past, and they felt pretty good on.  Hubby has a penchant for high heels, and I thought it would be a nice surprise for him.

Day of the party, I took a look at my legs while shaving them and realized I was in the middle of a huge plaque psoriasis outbreak.  The tops of my feet, outsides of the ankle and about 3 inches up the calf were covered with bright red, painful, scaly patches.  I decided I'd add fishnet tights, which would disguise the skin ugliness and still be in period character.  One problem, I tried the shoes on with bare feet, and adding tights changed the way the fit.  There's not a lot of structure to this shoe, a thin strap around the ankle, and a band across the very front.  Knowing my ankles, which have been sprained more times than I can count, and broken once each, and knowing how changing pressure points in my feet makes my arthritis flare up, I started to get nervous.  It's not just me anymore, if I wear stupid shoes and land myself on the couch for a day or two, icing my ankles and feet to keep the swelling down, I don't just impact myself.  I impact a little guy who needs me more than I need to wear shoes that make my legs look good.

I decided to bring a backup pair of shoes, a sensible 1/2" wedge with a cute open toe and flower on top, just in case.  I finished getting ready, and felt pretty darned good about the whole package.  We dropped BabyBoy at the sitter and headed to the party location.

While driving down, I kept wiggling my feet around.  The way that things had shifted in the shoe, I had no feeling in the first three toes of each foot.  I poked at my ankles, and felt that they'd already started swelling from the short walk from the car and up the stairs to the sitters door.  And I told Hubby, "I think I need to switch shoes."

"Oh, God Dammit."  he replied.  "You NEVER dress sexy for me any more.  You used to dress up all the time and wear high heels and sexy underwear.  Why can't you just wear the heels?"

"I just don't think it's a good idea.  My ankles are already swelling, this isn't a sit down event, and I really don't want to be completely laid up for two days recovering from a bad shoe choice.  I'm switching shoes.", I explained.

"Fine."  he said, flatly.

Not much else was said the rest of the drive, and I can't imagine anyone noticed my shoes.  The food was more substantial than the invite led to believe, and was quite good.  The drinks were ridiculously over-priced, but the company head honcho announced "open bar" not 30 minutes into the event, and they had karaoke.  Now we're talking about a good time.  I hit the stage more than once, and had a fantastic time.  We danced, we laughed, we talked with people - I even texted our sitter and asked if we could stay out an extra hour, like a kid begging permission to extend curfew from her parents.  I thought it had been a near perfect evening.

On the ride home, he laid into me about how I've changed, and how our relationship has changed.  I tried to reason that change HAS to happen when you add another person to the equation, and evolution is not a bad thing.  We ended up revisiting the conversation of what I "never do" (anything right, apparently) and what I "always do" (complain) and ended up having an awful argument that went into the wee small hours of the morning.  Whispered anger in the room with a sleeping baby, hot tears scalding the makeup off my face, and a lot of stuff was said that can't be unsaid.

The next morning, I got out of bed and nearly fell.  My ankles had swollen so much there was no longer a differentiation between foot and ankle.  My toes were swollen to the point of being shiny, and my left knee was hot and red and swollen as well. I tried to put my wedding ring on, and discovered this was a full-on, all joints impacted arthritic flare up.  I couldn't get the ring past my knuckle.  I sighed and put it back on my bedside ring holder, and couldn't help but wonder if it's not some sort of omen of our future.

I iced what I can ice, applied anti-inflammatory gel to the worst spots, and we headed off to "Music Together" class with BabyBoy.  I've never felt so alone at an event that includes "Together" in the title.

In closing, I didn't do a very good job at keeping it about arthritis, did I?  It's been a rough few days, and I've made a promise to myself to be honest here.  As with any relationship, you can say there are three sides to every story, his side, her side and the truth.  This is (obviously) only my side, and there's probably a truth somewhere in the middle that isn't painted as bleakly as I've painted this.  Thanks for reading.  


  1. The thing about keeping the post about arthritis is that you can't really separate yourself from it. You're a person suffering from an illness. If you could take the arthritis off - instead of the shoes - I'm willing to bet it would be a non issue.

    Now there are certainly always three sides to every story as you've pointed out. I'm going to guess the problem is with communication with your husband. I don't think he's an ogre - I'd hope you would have discerned that pre wedding so I'm going with the far away armchair quarterback understanding of: "we were a hip and trendy and amazing couple and now we're old married folks with a baby and neither of us are doing a very good job at striking a balance between this that gets all our needs met at least some of the time and doesn't result in anyone suffering horrible pain in the process." Good luck in the negotiations... perhaps couples counseling could help?

  2. I'm biting my tongue at your request but tasting blood. Instead I will send you all the healing energy I can muster and wishes for quick relief.

  3. Part of being a therapist (and one who is working with couples A LOT lately!) means that I can't play into the "right versus wrong," "good versus bad," "doer versus done to" trap (so I totally get your not wanting us to go there!). Good call. To say that there are even three sides to every story is to potentially reduce the complexity of these thorny dynamics. It's a tough one and I feel for you. On a more uplifting note, I'll offer you what an amazing couples therapist once said to us. He talked about conflict in a relationship being akin to sand in the oyster. If you never friction, you'll never have the pearl. It's all in how you endeavor to work with it. The moments of seeming awfulness can ultimately be gateways into places of deeper connection. (I'm speaking as someone who's spent lots of time on both sides of the couch!) Wishing you the best!