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A Testing Time


First off, I want to apologise for not having written anything on this blog for what feels like forever. Every week I've tried to build up up to it and failed. I'm only writing this now because it's the first day for a long time I've felt a bit more human. But I haven't been lazy, or feeling sorry for myself. In fact, you won't believe what's happened to me in the past month or two!

In my last post I spoke about the new medication I'm starting on. This will HOPEFULLY happen very soon – but I'm not looking forward to it. I should be thankful, I know, but I can't help but be nervous and scared when I start anything new. Even though it could be the best thing to happen for my RA, there are always doubts and "What if?"s.

Anyway, since my last post, October happened! Wow, that was a HARD month. First of all, I took up a challenge from the Versus Arthritis charity to do 10,000 steps a day throughout October. The aim was to spread awareness of RA and raise some money through sponsorship. Am I glad I did it? Yes, absolutely. Was it the hardest month of my life so far to date? Also yes, but let me explain why...

Hardest Thing Ever

Building up to October, I was really up for the challenge. I was confident I could do it, and the first day I did everything I could to get those steps in. I went for walks, did all the washing, running and playing with the boys, then more walking. I did what I could to get those steps in. I felt so proud of myself for doing it, but it was only the first day after all! The second day was Harry’s birthday. That was also easy because Mike and I walked for what felt like the whole day around Thomas Land. That's a theme park in Staffordshire based on the children's TV series 'Thomas and Friends'. With two toddlers that's a task and half in itself!

As the days went by things got harder. I pushed myself to get 10,000 steps each day but it was sometimes near impossible. In the current environment it wasn’t easy to just go out and get the steps done. I was having to work for them and most days I did 10,000 steps moving around my house or doing walks around the block. God knows how many times I walked round that block! It was mentally and physically hard, and every day my body was feeling the effects of the previous day.

Overspending My Coins

When discussing how to deal with my RA my Occupational Therapist uses the theory of 5 energy coins. She wants me to understand that I'm not superwoman and can't always do what I'd like. The theory is I have 5 energy coins. I can use those 5 coins each day and still be able to wake up the next morning and feel ok. I can use those coins how I want as long as I don’t overdo it, i.e overspend them. If I use more than those 5 coins my joints will swell and I'll be in constant pain because I've overworked my body.

To put it in perspective, before this challenge I was doing barely 6,000 steps a day. If you imagine the 5 coins used up for 6,000 steps, you can appreciate how many coins I was using for 10,000! Very soon into October I did think I'd bitten off more than I could chew. Even so, I didn’t give up. I carried on and started to do some YouTube work outs. They're quite handy when you are trying to get a lot of steps in. But of course, doing more than my 5 coins still meant the next day I would wake with swollen joints. I would then have to take a day off the YouTube workouts and try something else to get my steps up.

I could just about cope with it. A few people said I should rest and take a day off but I couldn’t. Once you set your mind on something you shouldn't rest no matter how much it kills you. I had to do it for myself so I knew I was doing the best I could do. My sponsors were relying on me! Then one morning I woke up with the worst flare-up in my knee. This made me think I did need to take things easier. So that's what I did. I was still concentrating on my steps but eased off a bit with all the other things (like housework lol).

The Twist in the Tale

Then, one morning soon after I woke up with a headache. But it was a headache like I'd never felt before. I remember saying to Mike it felt like a hangover, but I hadn't had been drinking the previous evening. I carried on my day as I could but something felt odd for sure. And I knew what it was. The day before this I was having my hair done by my younger sister Beth at the salon where she works. Towards the end she texted me, even though we were in the same room. Turns out she couldn’t bring herself to tell me the news to my face because she thought I'd be mad. Bless her. So she texts me saying, "Jess, someone I've been in contact with at work has tested positive for Covid". 

That's when I knew I already had it or would soon catch it. When I woke up with the headache I knew it was Covid. I don’t know why I knew; I just did. Beth and I have always been quite close. She helps me with childcare or with things that need doing around the house if Mike's working. Of course if she had it I would get it off her! She had no symptoms at the time but the salon asked her to get a test. The day after she got a positive result back. 

The Worst Kind of Positive

Well, I felt sick to my stomach. Of course, I am in the ‘vulnerable’ category, so I got worked up because of everything I'd heard about the virus. Mike told me not to assume anything and tried to calm me down. But I couldn’t calm down until I knew for sure. I also started to develop a cough and what felt like a burning nose which became so irritable. 

Mike booked tests for us and off we went to have them done. It's not that pleasant but definitely not the worst experience. The tests took less than a minute. We returned home, isolating as instructed but it wasn’t until days later I received the result. "Your coronavirus test result is positive. This means you had the virus when the test was done". Of course I did... I knew that all along. Now I not only had 10,000 steps a day to do, but I had COVID-19 to contend with as well!

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