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A 24-hour virus. The three-day measles. A cold that lasts seven days if you take care of it, a week if you don’t. A broken bone that heals in approximately six weeks.

When you were growing up, things had an end. When you asked your Mom how long you’d be out of school, there was an answer. There was a limit. You would get better, it was just a matter of time.

As I grew older and had more serious health issues, I could still see an end. Normally, these were surgical answers (such as having my gall bladder removed), but after the procedure, there would be a period of “getting well”, and I’d be as good as new. Even having my hip, and then my shoulder, replaced meant an end to the painful symptoms I was experiencing.

Last night, as I lay awake in the wee hours with my knees screaming and my spine experiencing that bone-deep wrenching ache that is almost elemental, I realized that I’m not going to just get over this.

It’s one thing to know you have a chronic disease, but it’s altogether something else to realize that a major paradigm shift has occurred. Everything you’ve known about disease and getting well, up to this point, evaporates like a mirage. You now have a new normal. You no longer are the person you’ve always been.

Yes, they can replace hips and shoulders and knees, and even relieve things like bone spurs and compressed disks. But they can’t replace everything and permanent joint damage is — well — permanent.

Day after tomorrow is my first visit to the neurosurgeon to diagnose the issues in my spine. I have to admit, there is fear involved. I’ve always been flexible. Until my hip surgery, I could stretch and put both palms flat on the ground — while wearing 3″ heels. (A talent appreciated by all my husbands.) Everything I read tells me the surgical options we’ll explore will rob me of some of the remaining flexibility I have. If  I don’t have the surgery, arthritis (RA or otherwise), will no doubt accomplish the same feat.

There is no getting over this. Or getting around it. There is only going through it.

I hope whatever you’re going through today has a simple remedy that brings you peace.

Thanks for checking in.