"What's a Flare?"

I've only really considered myself to have one flare in my life. I was eight years old and hospitalised for severe hip pain, high fever and dehydration. You literally couldn't touch me I was in so much pain. I know how bad my arthritis can get- that bad- and thankfully it's never happened again. I've always thought that it was only when my pain got to that point that I'd be in a flare up. Otherwise, its been bad days, bad weeks, horrible nights and fighting tears back when in public. But reading stories and following fellow arthritis warriors who have flares occasionally or often  got me thinking 'what defines a flare up anyway?'

A flare up is simply defined as an increase in symptoms from a patients usual symptoms. It may sound straight forward, but I don't feel like it is. Things with arthritis tend to be vague. The definition of flare is very vague. "How much pain do I have to have to be in a flare?" "Do I have to have extreme swelling to be in a flare?" "How long do I have to have increased symptoms for it to be considered a flare?" I can guarantee many a new and old patient alike asked these questions, just as I have. Honestly, I don't think there are any answers to these questions: they vary because our disease is different, just like we as people are different.

Even though I have an increase in pain and stiffness right now, I don't consider myself to be in a flare. That's probably because I was on my way to a 7:30 class at 6:50 yesterday. And because I have no real choice at the moment than to just push on. I know how severe my pain can get, and I'm thankful it's not even close to it. For me personally, I couldn't say I'm in a flare unless I was extremely ill. Of course, that's me personally. For you, that's completely different. You have a different level of pain from me; our diseases may be similar in nature but they're not identical. That's impossible.

If you find yourself in a flare right now, I wish you luck and gentle hugs- Flares are so stressful and painful, I can only imagine what you're going through. I know you'll make it through: You're very strong for battling this disease.


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