I am going on five years since I was diagnosed. For those of you have been following my blog for the past four plus years, you know that chronic illness and life have thrown me some major curveballs. Some of life’s challenges had nothing to do with chronic illness and some of them did.
When I was first diagnosed, I wanted someone to tell me that things would get easier and no one would. I didn’t realize that all these people were well meaning and they also didn’t know how to answer my questions. The course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia is different for everyone. In all honesty, I wish someone would have just said to me, “It likely won’t get better. It may get worse but it may not.” However, I am pretty sure that this information wouldn’t have made a lot of sense five years ago but it would have given me some kind of measuring stick.
September marks five years since I was officially diagnosed with RA. I was not diagnosed with fibro until months later. The first year to year and half were pretty bad for me as I learned to navigate my new life with chronic illness and pain. I remember some of my earliest posts and how they reflected what I was going through. A post, in particular, stands. It is titled “My Life May Not Be Normal, But I make Lemonade Every Day.” It stands out because it reminds of a time where my RA wasn’t controlled and where I had not yet accepted RA as a part of my life.
Here are a few excerpts from that post:
“When I watch the world move hastily and with ease, it really gets me real emotional. I have forgotten what it is like to be healthy, and not in pain. Mornings are tough for me. I usually have not gotten to sleep until real late because of the pain and the sleep problems associated with fibromyalgia. I sometimes feel like both these conditions have dominated all my 33 and half years on this earth.”
“Some days it is better, some days worse. This morning it was very difficult getting my seat belt on because my hands hurt very badly. Driving to the daycare, I watch people walking and riding bikes and I know that these are things I cannot do. The pain is too bad. I look at my boys, ages 11 months and 9 years old, and I wish I could spend more time with them instead of being tired and in pain all the time.”
“For me, that life looks a movie that my DVD plays over and over as a constant reminder of who I used to be. I remember my nine year old when he used to tag along to the gym with me two years ago, and how he couldn’t get stay out of trouble. That me no longer exists, and it hurts more than the physical pain does. It is even painful to hold the baby. I am lucky to have my nine year who is the best big brother in the world. While I would I love to curl up in bed all day and hide under my covers…Before my diagnoses, I knew I would be successful at everything I did, but now I just want to make it through the day and provide for my family the best that I can.”
I look back at that post and I wonder how I made it through. I know that living with RA and fibro doesn’t get easier. But it was a whole lot worse in August 2009 than it is now. While living with RA and chronic pain hasn’t gotten easier, I have gotten better at dealing with it.
The truth is living is the chronic pain and illness isn’t easy and it gets a whole lot harder as your disease progresses. What gets easy is how you deal with it. I have learned that I have so much to be grateful for despite chronic pain and illness. I have learned that the best and worst are in my control. See, I have a choice. I can either dwell on what’s happened or I can focus on keeping my symptoms at bay by taking my medications, watching my diet, and being active. Some days are harder than others but I am confident in my ability to keep moving forward and to keep fighting the fight. However, I know better than to tell anyone that it gets easier.