As most of my readers already know, I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For those of you who don’t know what RA is or need a reminder, RA is an autoimmune disease in which my immune system is malfunctioning and now thinks that my joints are the enemy. Essentially, my body has started to self-deconstruct. The only way to slow it down (for it isn’t possible to stop it entirely, or forever) is to take lots of heavy drugs which suppress the immune system.

I’m used to the drugs. I’m used to being extra vigilant not to get the flu or other illnesses. I’m even used to the aches and pains I get even though I’ve been in remission for over a year. I check the forecast frequently, can more or less predict when it’s going to be a bad week. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t get frustrated, even angry or disheartened when the bad weeks come.

This year isn’t nearly as bad as last year when we had the unexpected, sudden cold snap that dumped snow over all of Britain. I was home-bound for a week then. But we have had unpredictable weather this winter, too, in the form of sudden winter gales with high wind and sleet, followed by a beautiful clear day, only to swing back and forth again.

It’s difficult to do Work when one wakes up feeling like one’s hands are falling off, or when one’s body rebels and sleeps hours past one’s alarm, when it takes nearly a half hour to walk the one mile into town, or, when one finally gets to the office, one cannot focus for lack of energy or from distraction because one can feel one’s body aching even through the pain killers.

I don’t like to complain. But you see, I have a deadline: finish this chapter of my PhD thesis by Christmas. The days I have in my office are precious — there are only four of them, and this week has been eaten away by meetings, Christmas lunches, and the dictates of my arthritis. So I am frustrated, because I want to work, I have to work, I have ideas and thoughts I want to put into words on paper. Frustrated, and stressed, because I want to get this done.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. But because I am I, I will try to get it done regardless. One way or another.