RA Sins in Sin City

J.G. Chayko in Sin City

At the end of 2019, we took our annual trip to Vegas – it was a much-needed vacation after a year long program with the Writer’s Studio. The desert calls to me and it always offers a reprieve from painful joints. Winter or summer, the dry environment makes RA disappear from my world for just a little while.

Our Vegas vacation is more about relaxing rather then gambling or running around the city. I don’t do the night club scene, I see the occasional show, but mainly I lounge on a patio, read a good book, people watch, enjoy some good food, good wine, and my partner’s company – and occasionally, I like to break the rules – the RA rules.

When I say break the rules, I mean I stray from my regular routine of doing all the right things and indulge in little bit of decadent sin. There are so many things in chronic illness we are advised to avoid with good reason – limit or eliminate alcohol, don’t eat fried or fatty foods, and, of course, the big transgression for any autoimmune disease, no smoking. I am not a smoker nor am I an excessive drinker, but on special occasions, I like to step away from being the “good girl” and dive into the shadow of wantonness.

I need to break the rules every now and then, to detach myself from a life with chronic illness and remember what it feels like to be unbreakable if only for a few stolen moments. We’re bound by medications, physicians’ orders, flares, and responsibilities – sometimes it feels good to break the chains of restriction. It’s intoxicating to be untamed for a little while, like a wild horse running along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

After an afternoon chasing ghosts at a haunted museum, exploring a delightful bookstore called The Writer’s Block, and a delectable dinner at the Chinese restaurant in our hotel, my fiancé and I took a late night stroll to a local bar and indulged in some very good whiskey and shared a very good cigar. I felt like I’d stepped back in time to the days of Prohibition and it felt deliciously wicked.

These moments of strength and well-being come around so briefly I need to take advantage of them. We know our own bodies; we know when it’s okay to bend the rules a little bit. I work hard all year taking care of my body, giving it the rest it needs, healthy food, lots of water, exercise, outdoor activity and even the occasional massage, but I also want to look back and say, in spite of the pain and inconvenience of living with RA, I stole little bits of errant pleasures.

Every now and then I want to be “the bad girl”, I want to give in to small rebellions, and once in a blue moon, indulge in a little bit of sin.





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