Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another year older and about ten years wiser

Today is my birthday. This isn't very exciting, by itself. It's certainly not a milestone birthday, and I don't have a lot going on right now. However, this is my first birthday since my RA diagnosis, and it was a great one despite some lingering pain. Here's to 77 more fantastic birthdays, each more free of pain than the last!

It's so strange to think about the person I was exactly a year ago. I had a different house, a different roommate, a different relationship, and a totally different take on life. I'd rigidly planned out my next ten years, down to dates and locations. I thought I would breeze through the remainder of my credits, graduate this year, and head out for law school. I thought I would continue to work retail until I broke down completely. Most importantly, I had self-diagnosed the pain and swelling in my fingers as moderate carpal tunnel, and I ignored the pain in my feet completely. On my 22nd birthday, I had no idea of the giant roadblock about to be plunked down right in the middle of all of my carefully constructed plans.

Despite that giant roadblock, complete with daily pain, stiffness and self esteem struggles, I am happy to say I like myself more today than ever before. I've come a long way from the negativity and self-doubt that used to surround me. I'd like to think I am happier, more relaxed, and in some ways, healthier than I have ever been.

Thank you so much to my friends and family for the support and love they've continually given me this year. I could not have made it without you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A brief moment to appreciate my family

Today is my little sister's birthday, and she's not so little anymore! Some of my very first memories are of her birth - hearing that my wish had come true and I had a baby sister waiting for me, riding in the taxi with my grandma, holding my new sister for the first time and watching her little scrunchy face react, and being SO disappointed when she came home from the hospital and was not an instant bundle of fun. After she arrived at the house, I wished my sister away SO MANY TIMES, but today I could not be more delighted that my wishes never came true. We've been best friends and constant companions for years and years, and kept each other company during the saddest days of our lives. My sister is probably my biggest fan and my most loyal supporter. She loves me always and forever, no matter what. When I'm having a rough day, she is the first person to declare that she'll beat up the ENTIRE WORLD just to make me feel better. She worries about me constantly, and checks up on me often. I could not ask for a better sister or a better, more steadfast best friend. Liz, I love you so much and I could not get up and do this every day without you there to support me every step of the way. Thank you for your love during the ridiculously trying process of RA treatment! The happiest day of my life remains the day you were born.

In honor of Mother's Day, I also wanted to say a few words (haha, like I ever only have A FEW) to my mom. Mom, there are only so many ways I can tell you how much I love your unconditional love and support, but know that my appreciation is boundless. Every year in my Mother's Day cards, I write how grateful I am to have you as my mom, and how much I love that you're in my corner and fighting for me no matter what. These are still true this year, but I wanted to add: I may not love this RA, and I definitely wish I did not have it, but my diagnosis has brought us so much closer and strengthened our relationship intensely, and I wouldn't give that up for anything. Your daily texts to check up on my condition get me out of bed on the roughest of mornings, and your unwavering dedication to finding me the best treatment possible have made me, in turn, more committed to my own recovery. You support me and love me even at my worst, and exalt in my victories with me at my best. How blessed my life is, that I get to have a mom like you thinking about my well-being every day! Thank you for the time, support, money and love you have put into my life and my recovery. Our relationship will never be the same, and I couldn't ask for anything more.

I would be nothing without my family. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for your limitless love.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Those small victories...

I don't think anybody with a chronic illness could describe life with the disease as anything less than a constant chore. Taking care of a chronically ill body is like taking care of a college apartment - something's always messy, something's always falling apart, and there is NO WAY you can afford to fix everything that needs fixing. Lately, my body's multitude of problems have begun to wear on my very last nerve. Every week is a new medical adventure, and I'm a little tired of the wild ride. I've been exposed to so many new medical procedures since my diagnosis, and sometimes I just want a break!

So, morale's low on the home front. It's totally understandable, and it happens to all of us. I can always say, "Hang in there, friends!" but let's be honest: how many times have you heard that already? I probably tell myself to hang in there at least once a day, and I even get sick of hearing myself say it!

But something happened in this last week that really brought me back from the brink of utter frustration. It's not a very big success, but it's also a real success at a time when my body's failings have been weighing heavily on my mind, and it's MY victory over my RA.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Post: My BEST friend on being dealt a crappy hand

As you have probably determined by now, I love reading the perspectives of my family and loved ones. When my best friend, Ashanti, offered to write a guest post for me, I jumped at the chance. Here's her take on my RA. I love you Shanty! (I will caution, there's some language in this post.)