Friday, October 01, 2004

In Praise of the Trick-Cyclist

In Paul Scott's book quadrology, "The Raj Quartet," his characters have several conversations about the "trick-cyclists." This is a reference to psychiatrists, ala 1943. I had never heard the term before; however, a little Internet research informs me that it is Cockney rhyming slang from the style in use since the 17th century. Which accounts for why I found an online study group for psychiatrists using Trick-cyclist as its name. The lists of Cockney rhymes were fun and I recommend them to you at .

Back to the trick-cyclists. I have one, Dr. M. He's great. If you have lupus, you need a trick-cyclist to help you deal with the central nervous system (CNS) symptoms it causes. As a writer and inveterate crossword-puzzler, my brain is keenly important to me and sometimes the lupus interferes with my cognition in very specific ways. In "lupin" circles, we call this "fog." It is kind of like having your brain wrapped in cotton, muffled. One year, when I was very ill, I missed a whole quarter. When I got sick, it was winter and then, one day, I noticed that the trees had new leaves and the Astros were in spring training. That is so depressing.

Depression is another good reason for seeing a trick-cyclist. In lupus, the depression gets you in more than one way. First, it's organic, or caused by the disease process. Second, your life is depressing due to the effects of your illness on you and on your family. In my own case, I had to give up my business career - which I loved and which I had great success in. Giving up my career meant giving up our large home and moving into a much smaller one. (Well, the fact that I couldn't climb the stairs anymore either did add to the need to sell the big house.) It snowballs. I have had to give up roller coasters, too, for example. After the third fractured vertebrae, my husband just drew the line. I still love rollercoasters, though.

I am not complaining. Especially not now. Ten years ago, I didn't walk independently and I am able to walk now, thanks to several years of water aerobics to strengthen my muscles and also thanks to Victoria. I had to shape up enough to watch her, after all. Many people don't know that I have lupus. I look perfectly healthy to the untrained eye. This is typical of lupins. Partly, it is because I don't go out when I am not feeling well. Partly it is because lupus mainly affects internal organs and tissues, causing lots of pain and fatigue, but not necessarily external manifestations. Lupus arthritis, for example, is non-deforming arthritis, which means it hurts like hell but doesn't twist your bones the way rheumatoid arthritis does.

It's a tricky disease. And that's a good tie-in to my trick-cyclist friend.


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