Starting from the time you’re born, you start collecting “firsts”. You know, first words, first steps, first grade, first place, first kiss, first car, first job, first marriage, first house, first child. As you get older and your experiences grow, the “firsts” become fewer and further between.

I logged a “first” today. After three years of being diagnosed with RA, I missed work for the first time.

I’m in the midst of the worst flare I think I’ve ever had.

Some people say, “I had a flare in my right knee,” or their right elbow or whereever. While I have those joints that swell up and hurt, I don’t consider myself in a flare until everything hurts. My flares feel like the flu where you feel like crap and all your joints hurt and even the weight of the bedcovers is sometimes too much to bear.

This latest one started two days ago, early on Saturday morning just after midnight. It’s now Monday, and while some pretty strong pain pills and anti-inflammatories have helped, I am barely able to get out of bed — much less get dressed and drive in rush-hour traffic to my job.

I guess technically the weeks I missed with hip and shoulder surgery can be attributed to RA. However, this is the first time the disease has caused so much havoc with my body that I couldn’t go to work.

It’s not a trend I want to start.

My hope is that I can get my rheumatologist to call in a prednisone taper and that will put this flare at bay.

I hope that whatever firsts are in your life bring your first smile and first laugh today. Thanks for checking in.