Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Straw, meet camel

For three weeks now, I've been struggling to express my emotions to my readers, or my family and friends, or even just to myself. I've been on a roller coaster, from joy and relief to absolute despair. I'm at an utter loss, here, to try and express where I'm coming from. I've written and rewritten this post almost every day, and I haven't gotten any further. I hope this is my final draft.

Long story short, I'm now the proud owner of another medical diagnosis. During a routine physical exam last week, I brought up some areas of my health with which I had been struggling. My doctor immediately ordered a huge list of blood tests. This week, I got the diagnosis. At first, I laughed, because what the heck else was I supposed to do? But then I cried and I've pretty much been crying ever since.

It's just PCOS, guys. It's not even that big of a deal, really. More symptoms to manage, more medications to take, but not a super serious diagnosis, and certainly better than the alternatives. There's a certain sense of relief in this diagnosis, because it explains completely the issues that I've struggled with for years and years. I have an answer and a treatment, and armed with those things I should be able to recover. Maybe six months from now, I'll look and feel better than I ever have before.

So that’s the good news, and I’m honestly thrilled to have found this answer. Beneath that layer of happiness, though, I’m bewildered. How can another thing be wrong with me? How can more of my body be so broken? I don’t feel like I can manage this on top of my RA, which is still more out of control than I’d like. I haven’t even lived with RA for a year! I don’t know how to cope with the summer heat, I don’t know the warning signs for an impending flare, and I don’t know how to handle myself on those rough days when I still require a cane.

Why this? Why now, why ever, why me? This is another lifelong diagnosis, on top of asthma and RA. This requires a constant monitoring of symptoms and medication side effects. This feels like another blow, another kick while I’m down.

I'm frustrated with my broken self. Thrilled as I am to able to express myself freely, and walk, and talk and move (mostly), I feel more and more like I'm stuck in a defective body that will never work right, no matter how hard I try. This body will always be ugly, and it will always be faulty. It will never be what I wanted.

I'm mourning the loss of so many things. I'm not quite over the grief of losing what were once totally normal, healthy-looking joints. Sometimes, I still shed a tear for my early 20s, which were supposed to be filled with all the fun, silly things that newly-freed young adults do. I'm mourning my education, which has been completely derailed. Now, I have some new losses to grieve, and they are so tough to overcome. With PCOS comes a number of reproductive problems, as if I didn't have enough to worry about with the susceptibility to RA looming in my genetic code somewhere. I'm young now, it's true, but I feel that my body has already decided my reproductive future for me, and it didn't ask for my emotional input. To me, as a woman, this decision that my body has so firmly made is deeply, deeply hurtful. How can I recover after being dealt such a personal blow?

I hate the expression, "the straw that broke the camel's back," but after this recent diagnosis, I feel like nothing else is so appropriate. Coping with my RA has become routine. I've been managing my pain beautifully, staying positive, and enjoying every day. I've been so pleased with all my progress. Somehow, one relatively harmless diagnosis devastated all my progress, and left me miserable. I don't know what to do with myself, or how to feel better. Where do I go from here?

This is where I'm at right now. Please forgive me for my inability to communicate, or return phone calls, or answer e-mails. I'm trying to manage myself, but I can't quite handle it just yet. I'll find myself and my coping mechanisms again soon. I'm almost kind of positive.

(I am so sorry for this giant, ranty complaint. I'm frustrated with myself for this meltdown, and I'm wracked with guilt over the incredibly amount of ungratefulness and selfishness this post displays. It is what it is, though, and I needed to write. )

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hands hands hands

There are a lot of frustrating things about living with RA. Sometimes, I have bad, grumpy, awful weeks, and other times my weeks are pretty great despite my immune system gnawing on itself. This week has been a bad grumpy awful week. Yes, some of it is stress - with my job, with my personal life, with my body (which is clinging onto weight like crazy, despite my best efforts). But really, this week it's been one little thing that has really set me over the edge:


No, really. This week, it seems like everything I want to eat, throw away, put on, or otherwise use comes in packaging that constantly defies my every effort to tear it apart.

I love my hands. Really, I do. They are fantastic, they do great things for me, and I need them to be my hyper-organized, super anxious self. They help me organize my life. I love my hands, even after the RA tore through them and made my always-stubby fingers look like little dinner sausages. Even after the weird osteoarthritic node grew in my thumb for no reason whatsoever. Even after my useful right wrist got all swollen and sore. I still love my hands.

But MAN! This week, my stubby little fingers are so tired of trying endlessly to open bags of salad and fruit cartons. Is it really that difficult to fashion some packaging that is easy and simple to open? Does opening my new yummy bag of salad REALLY have to feel like wrestling with a balloon? How come my yogurt has, this week only, decided to come with an impenetrable, nuclear explosion-safe lid? Why is my fruit packaged in a bomb shelter?

Because this is really how it feels to have my hands this week.