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My doctor tells me that I have a very interesting case of RA. Even during a flare, I do not show outward inflammation. We have talked about taking a MRI to measure the amount of inflammation but neither of us feel strongly about it.

I was never a hypochondriac. Part of me thought that because I was small, people would assume I could not take the same amount of pain or stress as someone larger than me. Because of that whenever I hurt myself I would not make a big deal of it. I would not take pain medication. I would power through. So when I started feeling RA symptoms I knew something else was going on. I sustained a wrist injury for many months before I was diagnosed, but my orthopedist knew that the emerging symptoms were not based on the injury alone.

Now, two years after the initial diagnosis, I can feel the slightest difference in my joints. Everything from my ankle does not roll as easily or I bend at the hips more frequently than at the knees.

This makes me uneasy. I know the difference between being out of shape or tired and a flare. Lately, though, everything feels like it causes a flare: climbing, going for a walk, cooking the dog food. I wonder if I am planting a seed of insecurity in my mind that tells me that I no matter what I do, I will flare. I hope not.

Whenever I flare up, I think:

Why do I think I am experiencing a flare?

Is it just based on pain?

Is it based on mobility?

I am basing this current flare on lethargy. I can tell this is a flare because I am uncharacteristically tired. All. The. Time. I nap twice a day and still sleep at night. I can not wake up in the morning which usually comes easily to me. It takes more energy to stir the dog food and carry the dog bowls. I feel strain climbing the stairs or bending down to pick up the pets. My fingers and elbows cramp up more quickly and my shoulders are more painful than usual. A morning does not go by that I am not dropping something. Two days ago, I nearly shattered the dog bowl and a handful of drinking glasses.

More often than not I feel like a hypochondriac but I have to remember that I can gauge a flare in concrete terms that hopefully put those insecure thoughts at bay.

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.