Four years ago I started to notice something was really wrong with me. My mind and body were starting to become consumed with a chronic unimaginable pain that I never quite experienced before.
I haven't felt normal again since. I've been lost in a sea of fogginess and pain. Often feeling as if I am drowning in it's grasp.
Why was I in so much pain? What was this pain? It couldn't be nothing, why was I being told I was young and healthy? Why wouldn't anyone believe me? I could feel something was so very wrong.
Why did someone sitting beside me on the bus become to painful for me to handle just on my way to work? Why couldn't I do my job anymore? Why was wearing a pair of shoes I wore before so painful now?
Why couldn't I control my emotions? Why was my mind corrupted with thoughts of suicide? Why was I so angry and lashing out?
Having a child under two and being a single mother, I figured it was just postpartum depression and hormones, my feet changed after pregnancy, the pain was from the weight gain. It was so much more. I wasn't even 30, I was so young. I still am so young but pain has the ability to age you beyond your years. Pain forced me to grow up beyond my actual age.
When I head the words "you have rheumatoid arthritis" my life hasn't been even a fragment of what it used to be. I clung onto my old life, friends and tried ignoring what would be the inevitable to so many of of when we become chronically ill. But I couldn't stop the changes, my diagnosis was just an answer to what was happening, it was inevitable. Nothing would relieve it, if not, anything I tried or was prescribed made it worse.
Pain Made Me Alone
My reality became me against rheumatoid arthritis and it is a lonely battle. That pain was about to dig so deep it tormented my soul, it had the ability to change my hardware.
My pain had the ability to make me invisible to those who I needed the most. Pain changed who my family is and it made it a heck of a lot smaller. Pain tore me apart from my mother but made me closer to my father, despite the distance between us now with him living on the other side of the world. It changed my views of love, support and compassion.
The pain of broken and lost friendships taught me to put up a a hard shell, difficult to crack. Pain made me weary of others. Pain made me question love. I learned pain can make you invisible to so many but shine to others. You may not have the ability to chose who.
Pain made me dream of family, support, love and a normal life but pain has also made me fear all of those because of my unreliable health. I used to dream of what crazy metal band I could go see, especially one to travel to.
Before Pain Took Over
I remember thinking I would never want to live out of the city because how would I be able to go to heavy metal concerts? I developed my passion for heavy metal at such a young age. However the older I get the more I discover some scenes are full of drama which is toxic to your health. Pain changed my energy level, chronic neck pain has made me sensitive to noises, including some of the music I once listened to. As passionate as I was about the music, that passion died down the more my focus went to my health, my son and advocating arthritis. Pain changed my focus in life, for the better. Pain in some ways gave me a purpose.
When I stopped drinking the events I attended before became uncomfortable, they were too late for me, too many people sharing germs I need to stay away, even people touching me could be painful and explaining to inebriated people why I can't drink would just go out one drunk ear into oblivion. I may seem like a snob but I am just taking extra precautions for my health. It didn't take long for me to start losing friends as the changes and my disease progressed. Overtime my friends all became other chronically ill people of all walks of life. Instead of tearing each other down, they build each other up. Pain taught me who my true friends are.
I still cant help but mourn the moments of fun that I used to be able to have. I still can't help mourn a little for who I was - she was so alive and carefree. Pain or fatigue didn't get in the way.
Pain Changed My Ability and Focus
Pain taught me how to really take care of myself. Pain forces me to spend hours of self care I once ignored or never had the time for. Pain made me fall in love with exercise when before I avoided it.
My interest in becoming an esthetician was stemmed from my insecurities about my oily acne prone skin. My interest in patient advocacy stems obviously from the devastating affect arthritis has had on my life, including family members who are now gone. I share their pain and the 350 million others who are diagnosed with a form of arthritis.
How did pain change you?