Monday, April 21, 2014

Finding Strength

Finding optimism while fighting fatigue and chronic pain is something like looking for a shiny pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes though, you see that shimmer and if you have faith, you know it's possible.

If you are just starting your journey with a diagnosis, this concept will be difficult to imagine. In fact, it may be impossible to comprehend. But have faith, there will be periods of relief. Moments that you will feel human and days that you can still feel like a participatory part of society. There will also be days that you will pull the covers over your head and try to forget the world. The thing to remember is that there will be both.

Don't beat yourself up on the bad days. Fluctuations in weather, changes in diet or added stress can all easily work against you in causing a flare. Be a chronic procrastinator. Learn that there is always tomorrow, and it has the possibility of being better than today. Have faith.

Inspiration found in a card from a friend
About 2 years into my diagnosis I finally found a balance of medications, chiropractic care and multiple alternative therapies that gave me enough relief that I had a social life again. I had a great year. A few flares in there, it wasn't perfect or remission but it was manageable. And then it stopped, abruptly, and I was scared. The thing was, I was more scared on days that I felt human than the days that I was stiff and hurting. I was frightened that the next day I wouldn't get out of bed. I was scared of what the next day would bring. Equally frustrating was the fact that I had been doing so well and the rug was once again pulled out from under me. Last year was rough. I crawled back under the covers and wasn't sure I could climb back out. I had to explore new options, ramp up on new biologics and start all over again. I had experience the second time around. I'm sure it will happen again, it's inevitable. My hope is that I will tolerate it more gracefully next time around. If I don't, you can feel free to direct me back to this post for a reminder. I can't live in fear of tomorrow, because I don't know what it will bring, but I can live for today in pain or not.

I was a strong,self-sufficient, multitasker extraordinaire for 30+ years. Being "sick" robs your self esteem of that notion. Chronic pain strips you down and leaves you raw. There's a multitude of things that I can't accomplish anymore, there's a very long list of things that I can't do everyday. I fill out a chart with my current abilities every time I visit the Rheumy and mostly, I'm still thankful for the things that I can complete. I just do things differently now. I have a new normal.

These issues don't just affect ourselves but our families and friends as well. I have renewed strength in my marriage, in my friendships and my family. Learning how quickly life can change, learning to rely on others, was a hard road to travel. Acknowledging that I am still strong allowed me to balance the weight on my shoulders.

We don't choose to have a disease, disorder or problem. But in finding balance and keeping faith, we can draw from strength and carry on.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts
-Eleanor Roosevelt