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.
As you may know, I withdrew from my university this semester after an incident with a professor who had me removed from his class when I was physically unable to attend the first week. I waited too long to formally withdraw, though, and missed the deadline. Thus, I was assessed for the full amount of tuition and fees. On top of my already stressful RA, the thought of a huge bill looming in my university account drove me crazy. Instead of moping about it (okay, that's a lie, I really did mope for quite some time!) I sat down and took action. I wrote a strongly-worded personal statement about my experiences with my RA. I included my rheumatologist's statement of diagnosis. I even spoke with my Disability Services advocate, who was kind enough to compose an incredibly upfront and honest assessment of my current condition. She backed me 100%, and gave me the drive I needed to submit this appeal packet to the Bursar's Office.
Less than a week ago, I logged into my school e-mail to find a message from the Bursar's Office. I briefly considered closing my e-mail altogether and pretending I hadn't even seen the message, but I did eventually work up the courage to take a peek. Lo and behold, I'd won my appeal, and would no longer be responsible for ANY of my tuition!!
My heart feels lighter, even now as I write this. The power of every little victory cannot be underestimated. I prevailed against an entire school administration ready to bill me for an honest mistake made in the midst of an incredibly stressful medical time. I used my arthritis in a moving, powerful way. For once, arthritis has done something for me, instead of working against everything I've been striving for since I began college.
I feel great about this little victory. It's sustained me through yet another week of strange medical happenings. It keeps me going whenever the pain comes creeping back into my legs and wrists. There is absolutely no better feeling than winning a victory for yourself!
Take a moment, friends, and please think about your victories, even the smallest ones. Everything counts, and every little success is a huge step past that "stuck" feeling we all get when things don't go so well. Constant pain is a constant bummer, so fight it by counting even your smallest successes.