Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I’m Not the Same as I Was, or Will Be

"You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail." - Proverbs 19:21

This is the second article on rheumatoid disease (RD/RA/rheumatoid arthritis) written for Rheumatoid Awareness Day. It is centered on RD Fact #3: Rheumatoid disease manifests itself differently in each person and even in the same person over time.

As anyone with chronic illness will tell you, comparison is not a game you want to play.

I looked around the rheumatologist’s waiting room at the patients around me, sizing up the different situations and noting my reactions.

Young woman with a walker. How sad. I wonder if she had juvenile arthritis or if her disease is just that aggressive?

Middle-aged man with a cane. Hmmm…I wonder what his story is. Knee or hip?

Attractive lady in a wheelchair. Wow. She’s not that young, but not very old, either. Too young to be disabled, for sure.

Suited up business man. He looks just fine to me. Is he really a patient or is he a pharmaceutical rep? 

The fact is, with an illness like rheumatoid disease, we never know what the real story is with others. Looks can be deceiving. 

Even in my own life, I can look at my Facebook page and if you only looked at my photos, you would never know I had a chronic, disabling disease. They show my life’s joys, its triumphs, not the pain I may be experiencing that very same day.

Take my favorite wedding day photo, for example. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Health Central featured my RA story on its front page and used the picture I had sent them of me and my husband with our kayak paddles. There I am, smiling away, looking like I don’t have a care in the world! 

If you take the time to read my story, though, you’ll find that it wasn’t quite the fairytale it looks. The joints in my hands were so swollen that my husband almost couldn’t get the ring on my finger during the wedding ceremony! For days before and after, my feet hurt too bad to walk across the hardwood floor of my bedroom without slippers. And the fatigue was getting severe too, and cut our activities short on our weekend “mini-moon” trip just a short time after our wedding.

That was my life before diagnosis. It got worse before it got better, but once I finally agreed to treatment with a DMARD (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug), life became good again. If you listen to the audio portion of my story, you’ll hear how I was thrilled to not get sick from the drugs (yay for success with Plaquenil!) and how I felt “great” after a few months of treatment and physical therapy for both my shoulder and knee. 

I can talk about my great trip to Canada last summer, which was indeed made possible by the successful treatment of my rheumatoid disease. I can even show you pictures of me hiking and kayaking! I was never so happy to be able to take that vacation with my husband. But did I mention the ice therapy on my knee every night and the pulley I brought with me to keep my shoulder recovery going? That I am still having issues with my shoulders (mostly the other one now) and that knee? And that my big toe joint hurt so bad on Christmas Day that my husband had to do 100% of the dinner cleanup because I couldn’t stand any longer and was downing anti-inflammatories and soaking my foot in Epsom salts?

I am always going to consider my current life (as it is today) “great” as compared to my life with untreated rheumatoid arthritis. Even with my occasional flares of fatigue and painful joints, there really is no comparison. I’m also grateful that my current state of disease activity is mild compared to that of some other people. But RA is a progressive disease and there is no cure. It’s not uncommon for a medication to work for a little while and then just stop working. The immune system is complicated. There is no such thing as a straight line of recovery when it comes to autoimmune diseases like RA. You take nothing for granted. Every day is different.

I don’t know what my life will look like in the future. I hope it is as good as it is today. Who knows, perhaps medical research will find a cure and I will find remission. But even if that never happens, or I get worse, I know I can trust that I am held in the palm of the One who will never let me go. I can trust that God is good and so are His plans for me. I can find joy, even on the painful days, if I look hard enough for it. I won’t assume my life is better or worse than others, remembering that looks can be deceiving. In that, I can find gratitude and peace. 

I am not the same as I was, nor will I be the same tomorrow. Just for today, I will be OK.

If you have a chronic illness, how much do you compare your situation to that of others? Do you linger in the past or fear the future, or can you rest in the present?

I'm Not the Same as I Was, or Will Be originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Grace Esedeke's EncourageMe MondayCrystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

Subscribe to Spring Sight via e-mail
Subscribe to Spring Sight

We will never share your information with third parties.

No comments:

Post a Comment