One of the things I know all too well about my life is that is unpredictable – whether it is my family, my job or my health. I never know what to expect but I have learned to swerve regardless of the circumstance. People look at me and see this confident and laid back individual. In fact, an attorney I used to work for a few years back used to call me “unflappable.” Unflappable means composed, calm and cool. It means that I can keep it together even in the most stressful situations. I wasn’t sure that I could be “unflappable” today when I awoke this morning.
I awoke this morning to the most unimaginable joint pain known to man. I could barely open my eyes but I knew that I had to get myself into work today regardless of how I was feeling, mainly because I only have four sick/personal/vacation days left through the end of the year and the other reason was that it was the beginning of the month and billing for May was due today. It was not easy but I managed to get out of my home with my sanity in tact and got to work with a calm composure – and that is not easy when it hurts to move. When I tell my husband that I am not sure that I can actually maintain a calm composure on these down-right ugly days, he tells me I am as resilient as they come. (I hope so.) Resilient is an understatement because I have never had anything handed to me. Everything I have gotten, I have gotten with hard work. My husband was the opposite so for him, my strength is to be admired. For others like me, it is how life is lived.
I love the good days, I hate the bad days, and I dread the down-right ugly days. That is what it is like living with these two diseases – RA and Fibromyalgia. These are the days where I am not sure I can be “unflappable.” How can I even start to think about being calm and composed when I can barely stand up straight and walk without pain? How can I even try when every joint in my body hurts? I have learned that the “how” doesn’t matter as much as the “why.” The “why” is the reason that I can up every morning and not let these diseases win. The “why” is the part that matters the most and how I do it isn’t even that important. That “why” has nothing to do with me and more to do with the people I love – the ones that rely on me to be strong even when it hurts just to stand up straight.
Many persons wonder how much more life can throw at them and if they can handle the next blow. It is not just those of us with chronic illness either. It is anyone who finds obstacles in front of them. It is the young father who works two jobs to support his young family or the single mother who has be both a breadwinner and a parent without any help. I know that there are down-right ugly days in all of our lives but how and why we choose to respond is what sets us above the rest.
I hate the days where the diseases seem to be winning. These are the days where I can barely lift a finger to do anything at home or when I have to cancel plans with friends because I am too sick to enjoy myself or the fact that I do not have enough personal time from work to call off on the days where it hurts to touch my keyboard. All I know is that one day I awoke to find that my life had changed and even though it had changed, I still had people relying on me to be the same person I was the day before.
I look at these down-right dreadful days as God reminding me that I am not alone and that is and was never about me – it is about those I love. Life prepared me for this through many tests in the past, and even though these are days were I just want to hide under those covers, God also gave me a reason to get out from under those covers everyday. Feeling sorry for myself isn’t as important as not feeling sorry for me because, truth be told, I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I have a life to live, children to parent, and a job to do regardless of whether I feel good, bad or down-right ugly.