The rainy weather hasn’t been pleasant to my joints, muscles, neck and pain. If you have sun where you live, can you please send some my way? The RA is flaring, the fibromyalgia is flaring and so are the herniated discs. For the past two weeks, that has been norm for me. I have been dragging my right leg around. The pain is not all RA, however. The herniated disc in my lower back is flaring and the pain is radiating into my right leg, starting at the hip and going down. It gets worse if I pick up anything heavy and that includes my three year old. He was upset that I said I couldn’t carry him and told me, “Mom, I am not heavy.” Before anyone starts, “Yes, three year olds walk but they also get tired.” It has been quite some time since I have really carried him but there are times where I have to like to put him in the shopping cart seat.
I wish I could just blame everything on RA but I can’t. The neck and back is from that auto accident back in May. The muscle pain is from the fibromyalgia and the joint pain from the RA. In addition to the joint pain, I am stiff and every joint in my body is stiff and I am extremely tired no matter how much rest I have gotten. I am dealing with multiple flare ups and it is not fun or pretty. It is a fact of life for me and sadly, my kids as well. I am not the only one that lives with the effects of my chronic pain they do too. Sometimes, I ask myself if my kids are missing out on anything. Are they?
I know one thing for sure. If I was diagnosed with RA before I got pregnant with my now three year old, he wouldn’t be here. I am sometimes sad that my diagnosis took so long but I am also grateful at the same time. While I want more kids, my RA treatment stands in my way as does the flare-up that would follow after giving birth. I went through that three years ago and while I am grateful to have my wonderful son, I don’t want to go through that again. It was a sad and dark period in my life. I was trying to be a mother and RA was stopping me. I thank God everyday that my sister was there because I am not sure how I would have gotten through those first few months.
I read once that parenting involves a lot of juggling but parenting with chronic pain is like juggling with one hand. You try to juggle with the one hand but you can’t and you feel guilty that you can’t especially when comes to the physical activities. There is so much that I think I “should” do and I can’t but at the same time I know that I am doing the best that can. One of the things I hate the most is my kids watching me struggle but sometimes it is out of my control like, for example, asking my 11 year to put his brother in the shopping cart because I just can’t do it. Sometimes, I feel ashamed that I am not as strong as other mothers and other times, I am glad that my children know empathy, kindness and support. Even my three year old knows this. He often asks how he can help and when he sees me struggling, he asks if I am okay.
Chronic pain interferes with kind of parent I want to be. I think that is the hard part. While I am a parent to my children to the best of my ability, I am not the parent I want to be. In that sense, chronic pain limits me. My kids don’t notice it because while I am not able to be as physically active as I used to be, I still manage to make time for them. So, if anyone feels this guilt, it is me alone.