If I would say anything about 2019 is that I learned a lot and felt myself grow as a mother, friend advocate and patient. As the year is ending I am reflecting on some of the really cool and rewarding stuff I did this year while trying to let go of the bad and survive the bumps that were thrown at me along the way and take care of my tiny human. Life can get a bit chaotic for me.
2019 stands out to me, it wasn't like any other year of mine. I lived out few dreams of mine. I set out to further my advocacy and self growth, I made some massive steps forward arthritic speed.
But of course life isn't perfect, there's always some shit thrown in those moments we wish to cherish, sometimes those moments also have effects on us whether we like it or not. So I am starting on the bad so I can focus on the good in the end. I don't like going down the rabbit hole of self pity.
The Bad That Happened
Hit and Run.
In February I was involved in a minor car accident. I went out to a show, a rare occasion when living with chronic illness, and on my way home in the cab someone drove right into the cab on the passenger side, then took off. I jerked and my neck hurt like hell for a few days. Luckily I met my great chiropractor who's appointment I already had booked before the accident and got the first few months covered. There's some luck in that.
A Chronic Illness Nightmare
For a brief period of time this year I decided to get a roommate. I thought I found a good candidate when I found an older woman with arthritis who works as a house cleaner and babysitter. What more could a single mom with arthritis want living with her? That decision ended up being one of the worst I have ever made. She was suffering from something but refused to take care of herself. To her I was not sick, I was too young, it's just arthritis, my home quickly became as toxic as her, she had to go but when she doesn't get her way she is volatile and explosive. She lived with me in the months leading up to my surgery and I strongly believe the stress she put on me during the time living here and the time after which she continued to harass me and others I know, made me heal slower. For several months I was living in fear and I had wounds from that nightmare to heal. Toxic people are not good for you, physically and emotionally. One of my biggest issues of 2019 is how social anxiety impacts my life.
I was cut open, stuff removed, another diagnosis to the list.
It took a lot out of me to have a bilateral laparoscopic salpingectomy to remove my tubes, no longer giving me the ability to have anymore children, a cyst and finally some answers for the uterus pain I've had for years, endometriosis.
Each of these experiences taught me how my body is with stress and how to get myself out of the funk situations like this can put you in. Each time I was also away from exercise and could see how important it is for my overall health. During surgery, my exercise routine came up multiple times, how it would benefit my ability to handle anesthesia, healing well, prevention and new diagnosis well.
The Good That Happened
I started the year off with a visit from my father. Something I always cherish, as the years increase, my time with him decreases. He is an inspiration and huge support to me, even though he lives across the world. Arthritis really connected us.
I was lucky to be selected for the 2019 HealtheVoices conference. Any patient advocate with a social media presence enjoys this opportunity to learn, grow, heal and connect with other advocates during a weekend sponsored by Janssen and Janssen. I am wait listed for 2020, so I am not counting on going but that's ok if someone new can have the experience. I had my time. I want someone else to have that healing experience. I find connecting with other patients to be one of the biggest highlights of my year.
Tenth Anniversary Walk for Arthritis Ambassador
It was my fourth year participating in The Walk For Arthritis to raise awareness and raise funds for The Arthritis Society. This year I was their walk ambassador and on the walk committee, where I had the opportunity to be on morning television show Breakfast Television, speak at the walk and show my son how important it is to volunteer. It was a really rewarding experience being ale to share my story and support the walk for arthritis. Unfortunately times change, it was also the last Walk for Arthritis.
Regular At Creaky Joints
My writing was noticed by major arthritis publication and non-profit Creaky Joints. I started in the spring with them and by the end of the year I have 12 publications, including one of the years most popular articles. I am grateful to help others with my words.
My Friends Call Me Famous
Some of the features I had in 2019 were with CBC News, Georgia Straight, Burnaby Now, Healthcentral, Daily Mail UK, BBC News, etc... While I admit the attention is exciting and feels good, what truly matters to me with these features isn't about fame but getting the word out there to create awareness for all forms of arthritis, invisible disabilities and chronic illness. If you are listening to what I have to say, there's a lot of purpose behind these features.
I was nominated for some pretty cool awards.
I am grateful for the people who took the time to nominate me for awards WEGO Health Activists and Qualman-Davies Arthritis Consumer Community Leadership. Even though I did not win, it is an honor to be nominated for these awards. I admit I would like to win something one day so my Dad can stop bragging about the award I won in grade 7. It'd be nice to give him something more current to be proud of, arthritis has been impacting our family for generations. Don't mess with the Davidson's arthritis.
A Year With Arthritis Research Canada
Participating in research and sitting on the patient advisory board for Arthritis Research Canada has been one of the biggest highlights of my year. I was able to participate in studies that benefited my own health and others while getting out of the house too. This year I was invited to attend the Arthritis Soiree and American College of Rheumatology Conference in Atlanta. I found I have a passion for health research.
Best Arthritis Blog x 2
Everyday Health and Healthline have called Chronic Eileen one of the top arthritis blogs to follow.
I spent more days in the gym than not.
Despite surgery, the bumps of life, a car accident and being a busy single mother I kept up with my exercise routine the best I could. Now I can see and feel the impact it has on my overall health and life.
As I end 2019 I am asking myself serious questions about life changing decisions to keep moving forward for a better tomorrow for myself, my son and those living with chronic illness.