Friday, August 27, 2004

I just discovered a fascinating online toy -- at least, it is fascinating if you've got arthritis that appears to be sensitive to the weather. Check out the Aches and Pains weather map! No wonder I like California.

I've got osteoarthritis, an inheritance from my beautiful grandmother, and I've tried being mad about it, sorry for myself, depressed, angry, and a lot of other stuff. I've taken all sorts of odd nutritional supplements: my favorite is cod-liver-oil; the useless ones are a long list. Some people swear by glucosamine and condroitin, but they did bupkes for me. I also do drugs, as needed: Motrin, Naprosyn, Cox-2 inhibitors, aspirin, Tylenol, you name it.

What works? The Egoscue Method exercises have been helpful for me. Motrin is wonderful stuff, if I go easy with it. Meditation is a blessing. Laughter is indeed good medicine. Prayer works. Sometimes cussing has its points.

Being mad about it seems to be a more constructive state of mind that being sorry for myself. Depression is just another illness -- no thanks.

I got to a point last year, before I found the Egoscue exercises, when I wondered if I was going to be able to continue my program at HUC. I hurt too much, too much of the time, to concentrate properly. I stumbled on the book at exactly the moment I needed it, and all I can figure is that both the book and my willingness to try it were gifts of heaven. I was able to get back to the serious business of learning.

During the time that I feared I would have to quit, I remember feeling trapped, because on the one hand, I can't go to rabbinical school if I can't think -- but on the other hand, the thought of quitting school was unspeakable. My life is opening up in wonderful ways: the learning itself, the work it allows me to do, the people with whom I study and the people whom I am learning to serve, all combine to make life wonderful and purposeful. It would break my heart to quit.

So arthritis is a footnote; it gets in the way, but it isn't going to get more dignity than that from me.

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