Monday, July 1, 2019

A controversial post. . .

I have debated on whether to write about this for quite a while now, conflicted on whether or not I wanted to deal with the backlash I would face from other Christians. However, I am reaching a point in my life where my concerns over the opinions of others are vastly dwindling and I have never been one to shy away from taking a stance just to appease those around me. So, here it is. I use marijuana medicinally. People who claim to be Christians can judge me, be disgusted and disappointed in me, and claim that it is sinful of me. Many will react in exactly such a way and they are entitled to their opinion of course. But this lifestyle choice is not between me and others. It is between me, God, and my husband. I have yet to discover anything else that touches easing the pain that I am often in, pain that is debilitating and can and does often leave me incapacitated. The only other thing that has helped touch and relieve this pain has been opioid medication, an alternative that my husband is very uncomfortable with as it can be highly addictive and can lead to heroin use. This is quite unlikely when used for chronic illnesses/pain patients, however, it is a possibility that my husband is extremely uncomfortable with as he has witnessed such addictions before in others. Honestly, I have never been able to fully understand the objection that so many Christians have towards medicinal use of marijuana for pain; I have heard the argument that the psychoactive effects of marijuana are wrong, yet, the prescription alternative of opioids (which I hear few Christians complaining about or having an issue with) are also a psychoactive drugs, not to mention the dangers of overdose and the possibility of addiction. For some reason, however, marijuana is of the devil in the eyes of many Christians.

That being said, I recognize the importance of responsible use of marijuana. I don’t smoke marijuana while at work or while out and about and I don’t drive while under the influence of marijuana. Generally I try to wait until evenings before I use it to help with the pain and help me find some sleep at night. I recognize that marijuana, like anything else in this life, can become an idol and can be misused in a way that is not responsible or glorifying to God and I strive to be responsible in my use of it. Just like anything else in this world, marijuana can be used as an escape from the realities of life. Video games, the internet, social media, and eating can all be used for the same thing and when used to constantly escape the realities and responsibilities of life, I would say they are all wrong and all dishonoring to the Lord. I have spent time praying about it, seeking the Lord’s wisdom, asking for His guidance, and this is the decision that I have come to after much prayer and consideration. It is very easy for us to become legalistic and decide everything is black and white in this world and that we best know God’s will, plan, and how to best interpret the scriptures. But legalism is not of Christ. 

Please, remember that not everything is a hill to die on. I have known Christians who drink and Christians who abstain from alcohol. I have known Christians who believe women should not wear pants and I have known (and am one) Christians who don’t think twice about wearing pants. I have met and known those who think we should only listen to Christian music and others who think that all types of music are okay. The point is, music, alcohol, pants - they do not determine a person’s salvation. They are personal convictions made off of personal interpretations of the scriptures, beliefs made from spending time with God and seeking His guidance. My salvation does not rest in how I treat my pain but rather, in the God I trust, love, and serve. How sad it is that I would be so fearful to admit to the Christian community how I treat my pain because of their judgement and legalism. How sad it is that the Christian community can be so focused on black and white that they fail to see that Christ came to fulfill and thus free us from law. Were that not so, circumcision would still be necessary for salvation, those who are not Jews would not be able to be welcomed as a child of God, and His people would still be sacrificing goats to atone for their sins. With Christ, came freedom. With Christ, came salvation for ALL who believe. Whether I use marijuana or not, my salvation rests, safe and sound, in Christ.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Life as I know it now

Getting up in the mornings is always a struggle.  My body is stiff and aches like I did a strenuous workout routine the night before.  My mind grapples to accept that it is another day for me to get through. All I want to do is fall back asleep; usually though, once I’m awake, I’m awake.  Despite feeling like I got three hours of sleep, my body refuses to go back to sleep. My husband leaves for work and I try desperately to fall back asleep, pleading with my body for just a few more moments of sleep before finally surrendering and accepting that I am up for the day.  Of course, ‘up’ usually means parked on the couch, at least for a bit while I force myself to come to terms with being awake. My meds are all tucked away in a bin by the couch, waiting for me to take them once I have completely woken up. Even after I swallow all my pills, I often still need a minute or two more on the couch, before attempting anything else.  

My house is a mess again.  Or perhaps I should just say that it is a mess still.  It never seems to get completely clean, despite it always being a weekly goal.  This week, I got some more bins and containers from the dollar store, so I’m hoping to at least put a dent in the mess and get some organizing done.  The pantry cabinets already look so much better with all the food stashed in bins.

This past weekend consisted of three days that had activities and events in them which means my body is extra angry at me this week.  Saturday, we celebrated my sister’s birthday and Father's day with my family, which was lovely but taxing on me. Sunday, we celebrated Father’s day with my husband’s  - again, a lovely time, but exhausting. Monday, we had to trek to a doctor’s appointment for Vance and make a few other stops. By the time we made it home, my back was throbbing and I took the entire afternoon to rest and try to recover from the past three days.  The past three days were hardly strenuous, yet for my body, it was a lot. . . made evident by the aching tight muscles all over, especially in my lower back.

Today, my back muscles are extra sore in addition to the ‘normal’, daily ache set with in my body that feel something akin to the body aches that accompany a bad flu.  I want to clean the house but I also know I need to be careful not to overexert or overextend myself today. I will have to pace myself and use moderation when cleaning.  Cleaning always involves lots of resting breaks.

I am still figuring out life and how to live it now, with my current symptoms. Although I have been sick for ten years, it has progressed quite a bit the past two years and my life is now completely different than it once was. Things that I could manage with little to no difficulty are now mountains I have to scale. What once was easy is now difficult. However, I am slowly but surely figuring out how to adapt. I have found that currently, my body cannot tolerate heat or warm environments. I spend the majority of my days parked in front of our air conditioner. Summer, a season that to me, has always been associated with adventures and fun and the outdoors, has become a season of difficulty for me. Most days cannot tolerate the heat or the sun during the day. This is somewhat common to my autoimmune disease, so I have to assume that is why my body is reacting the way it is to the heat. Even the evenings are sometimes too warm for me to venture outside on a walk. I miss the outdoors and I have yet to find a solution that allows me to spend time outside when it's hot out.

I have, however, found solutions for some of the difficulties that have popped up the past couple of years. One of the most helpful solutions and adaptations for me right now is to use a chair in the shower now. My husband, upon me complaining one evening about how a shower would help me feel better but I was too fatigued to stand in it, pointed to a metal chair and suggested I use it. His idea has proved to be quite helpful. I can now shower each day and not feel like passing out from the exertion. my ice pack and heating pad that was gifted to me by my parents last Christmas are some of my closest companions, solutions to lessen my discomfort. My trusty ice pack often accompanies me on car rides to keep me from becoming too overheated. My heating pad eases my tight and sore muscles when nothing else will help.

Life is complicated and messy right now. I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. I have a lot of fears and doubts and uncertainty. Yet, I am slowly making progress and for that I am thankful. I do not know what the future holds. . . But I do know who holds my future and I know that He is faithful, merciful, and full of grace. So, I am trying to set my eyes on Him and His great love and continuous faithfulness. I fail at that a lot. But, He is a patient God and each time I waver, He remains faithful

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

An update

For the past week or so, I have been feeling slightly better....which means I still have pain and fatigue and in general feel very unwell, BUT, I am not in as much pain and I am not as fatigued as I was for a while there.  I am not sure if it is because the medication I was put on is starting to work or if I am simply in-between flare ups right now.  Either way, I am trying to not take it for granted.  Yesterday, I was able to accomplish a lot (for me).  I made a trip to the dollar store for some things we needed (we really needed a toilet scrubber, okay!) cleaned the bathroom which has been atrocious lately due to my lack of ability to clean consistently, and managed to finally finish the mountain of dishes in the sink!  I even decorated my wreath with some fake flowers from the dollar store! Every time I look at it, it makes me smile. Of course, after all of that, I was quite exhausted.  However, normally after such tasks, my hands and feet would be extremely inflamed, swollen, and painful.  Last night, this was not the case, for which I was quite thankful.  As my upcoming appointment with my rheumatologist  approaches, I am fearful of what may come but I am trying to remind myself that worrying over worst case scenarios does nothing but rob me of joy, happiness, and peace.  Still, I am anxious over how the appointment will go and what the outcome of it will be.  I have a few concerns to bring up at the appointment and after so many years of not being listened to by doctors, I am somewhat fearful as to whether this doctor will listen and address my concerns or not.  A million 'what if's' play through my mind and I have to remember to shut them up and not let them gain foothold in my thoughts (which I am not always the best at...but I am trying).   

I am slowly (very slowly) trying to find joy and happiness in the little things in life.  There is such an immense peace in letting go of your stress and anxiety and all the concerns that are swirling around in your mind and simply being.  Even ten minutes in the fresh air, admiring my roses and plants can lift my spirits and calm my soul quite a bit.  I am slowly trying to implement things into my life that will promote healing in my body and soul.  Of course, this is also difficult and stressful due to our current financial situation, but I know my God will provide and my sweet husband and I will persevere.  Right now, my focus is on the little things that I can control, such as what I eat and what I think.  Food has always been one of my vices.  I eat when I am sad, I eat when I am happy, I eat when I am angry.  Training myself to have self-control when it comes to food and to keep myself from eating things I know will bring the opposite of healing to my body is hard for me.  Extremely hard.  If I'm being honest, I am quite addicted to sugar and am well known among friends for my sugar intake, so it is going to be a struggle to cut back on sugar.  I also am struggling with not eating gluten.  During some of our financial issues this year, I have gone back to eating gluten for convenience and due to money (okay, and I also just really love McChickens, and Whoppers...I admit it).  I know that I need to go back to not consuming gluten so that is another aspect of my life that I am trying to tackle and get under control.  There are many things about my health that I cannot control but I can control what I eat so I am striving to make good decisions with that.

This post really doesn't have anything of value or knowledge.  I simply am sharing where I am at right now in this journey with my health and with life in general.  Life is hard but I am hopeful that better days are approaching.           

Why I speak out on the rights of disabled people

I speak out and talk about disability rights and chronic illnesses and disabilities quite frequently these days.  I know many have noticed.  I know some may wonder why now?  Did my diagnosis of RA really spur me into this fanatic who speaks out on disability rights and who constantly speaks up about the hardships that chronic illnesses and disabilities have on people?  The answer is yes...and no.  My diagnosis gave me the courage to speak up but these issues have been on my heart for a long time.  These words are words that I have swallowed back time and time before, never having the courage to speak up.  My diagnosis simply gave me the courage I lacked; my diagnosis gave me 'proof' of an illness and disability that has wracked my body for years. For so long, I have felt as if I had no claim to the disabled community or the chronic illness community.  I had no diagnosis.  No doctor knew what was wrong with me and many gave up on me and pushed me to the side.  Despite the symptoms that often took over my body, I felt as if I had no 'proof' for those around me.  I felt as if those around me felt like I was making it up or exaggerating.  If doctors hadn't been able to discover anything wrong with me, then there must not be anything wrong with me.  Who would believe me if the 'professionals' couldn't even find something wrong with me?  So, I remained silent.   But, now, I have a diagnosis.  Now, I have the 'proof' of my illness - the expertise of a doctor to back me up and to say that I do, indeed, have a chronic illness.  I have dealt with this illness for years.  The diagnosis does not change that.  It simply brings affirmation to my years of sickness...years where I remained silent.  So now, I am no longer silent.  I speak the words that have been caught in my throat for so long.  I speak up for the rights of a community that is so often ostracized, neglected, and cast aside, a community that is often deemed by society as unworthy of rights. 

There is a proposal coming together right now that pushes to use social media (such as Facebook and Instagram) as a means of identifying if those on disability are 'truly' disabled.  This is not okay.  It may sound okay; If people are abusing the system and collecting disability money when not disabled, they should be found out and punished.  Of course this makes sense.  The problem, however, is that people with disabilities and chronic illnesses are not always bedridden.  We enjoy life when we can.  We go out with friends when we can.  We are allowed to have fun times just like any able bodies person. A picture on social media of a disabled person out enjoying a day at the lake with friends does not mean they are not disabled.  There are not many people who post pictures on social media when they are struggling with their disabilities.  I don't post the pictures of me in bed, ice packs, heating pads, and pillows surrounding me as I deal with a flare up of my illness.  I post pictures of me when I look good and when I look do most people.  It is already a difficult feat to get on disability.  I know this. Anyone with a disability or chronic illness knows this.  To add to this difficulty the need to constantly watch what we post on social media in case the social security administration decides that we post too many happy and 'healthy' looking pictures is unacceptable.  For many with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the money they receive from disability is how they survive.  Without it, they would not be able to afford food, housing, sometimes even medications.  Without it, they would die.  I am all for making sure that there is not fraud when it comes to receiving SSDI.   However, there are already extensive measures in place to avoid this fraud.  In fact, fewer than 4 out of 10 applicants are awarded disability benefits.  Investigating someones social media posts and pictures in order to 'prove' they are not disabled is violating and insufficient evidence to deprive someone of their income (usually their only income) that keeps them alive, keeps them surviving, keeps them from homelessness and death.

This is only one example of society's absolute disregard for the lives of disabled peoples.  I urge and encourage you to be aware and to do your part to support the rights of disabled people.  We are human beings and we ask to be treated as such.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Raising Awareness

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease?  Many hear arthritis and think of the joints which is perfectly reasonable since arthritis does affect the joints.  However, rheumatoid arthritis or RA involves more than the joints, although joint pain and degeneration of the joints is a big part of this disease.  While osteoarthritis is from wear and tear on joints, whether from old age,  sports injuries or other things that can cause the breakdown of the cartilage surrounding affected joints, RA is an autoimmune disease.  Autoimmune diseases involve a person’s own immune system attacking healthy cells in their body.  In a healthy body, the immune system protects against disease and infections that seek to invade.  In a person who has an autoimmune disease, the immune system malfunctions; it attacks healthy cells, mistaking them for intruders, basically turning against its own system (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases). When a person has RA, the bodies immune system mistakenly attacks the joints.  A person’s joints have a membrane called the synovial membrane.  This membrane contains synovial fluid which helps provide a sort of ‘cushion’ for the joints, lubricating them and keeping the cartilage surrounding the joint healthy. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to attack this synovial membrane, causing inflammation, which in turn causes the synovial fluid to over produce (physioworks).  This causes the joints affected to swell and the capsule that holds the synovial membrane and also holds the joint together is stretched, resulting in pain (  The inflammation can cause long term damage to the joint, cartilage, and bones.  Here is a diagram showing a healthy joint, a joint suffering from osteoarthritis, and a joint suffering from RA (I found this diagram on 
I’ve spent some time focusing on how RA affects the joints but, as I previously mentioned, there is much more being affected besides the joints.  With all of that inflammation running rampant in an affected person’s body, it makes sense that it would spread to affect the entire body.  The skin is often affected as the blood vessels are inflamed, often producing rashes and nodules.  Bones throughout the body can be thinned and become brittle from the inflammation.  The inflammation that RA creates can affect the lungs, the heart, the nervous system, and blood complications such as anemia and blood clots (Arthritis Foundation).  Besides being able to cause destruction and damage to other organs, RA also comes with a vast amount of symptoms that are not limited to joints.  Extreme fatigue is ‘normal’ for a person with rheumatoid arthritis which makes sense when one thinks about what the body is enduring.  Because nerves can be affected by the chronic inflammation, numbness and tingling can occur in the hands and feet.  Muscle aches and pain are common, as is malaise, low grade fevers, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dry, painful eyes and mouth, also known as Sjogren's Syndrome (emedicinehealth).
Okay, now that we’ve discussed how RA affects the body and the common symptoms that it can create, let’s look at how RA feels.  Every case is different, just as every person is different, so RA can present itself in different ways for different people.  Many people say that living with RA causes them to feel like they have a very bad flu every day.  I can attest to this; every day, my entire body aches like I have the flu or a bad cold. Painsomnia (insomnia caused by pain)  is common with any kind of chronic pain so RA is no exception to this.  It can be extremely difficult to get a good night’s rest (something that is important to help ease RA symptoms) when one is in constant pain that keeping them up and/or waking them up all hours of the night. The fatigue that many people with RA have is a deep fatigue no amount of sleep can cure, a fatigue that can cause brain fog and difficulty remembering things.  Because of the inflammation and low grade fevers that RA causes, many people experience hot flashes, feeling overheated, and heavy sweating often.  Some describe RA as feeling like their body is ‘heavy’ and hard to lift/move, a body filled and weighed down by concrete.  Joints swell up, stiffen, and lock up.  Pain can alternate between a deep and dull pain, a sharp, stabbing pain, and anything in between.  
RA is a disease that encompasses the entire body and can affect every aspect of someone’s life.  Most of these symptoms I’ve listed are symptoms I experience on the daily.  I am thankful that my disease has not progressed to a point of joints locking up.  My joints don’t swell up much and the stiffness I experience is a minimum compared to many people battling this disease.  I do however have what I call ‘rice Krispy joints’.  All of my joints - ALL of them - upon being moved, snap, crackle, and pop like a bowl of Rice Krispies that just had milk poured over it. I am quite familiar with 1 A.M. because lately the pain has been so bad that falling asleep is a difficult task.  My poor husband has to put up with me tossing and turning all night long and getting up in the middle of the night to have multiple hot showers which soothes the pain.  Fatigue and brain fog are constant companions making even the easiest tasks seem enormous.  We don’t go out much because I rarely feel up to it.  Between the constant pain and the fatigue, it is difficult for me to be out and about.  The hot flashes...oh, the hot flashes!  I’ve experienced them for years and it’s become a joke between me and my friends because often those around me will be cold and want the heater on and I’ll be sweating profusely and feel like I’m burning up.  Lately, I’ve discovered that putting my ice pack on my head helps cool me down.  
I write all of this not to gain people’s pity but rather to educate and bring awareness to this disease that affects 1.3 million Americans and an estimated 17.6 million people world wide.  It is predicted that this number will double by 2030 (Global RA Network).  I write this to bring awareness to the many autoimmune diseases that affect 50 million Americans (according to the AARDA.  I couldn’t find a number for those affected by autoimmune diseases worldwide).  Awareness and education on RA and autoimmune diseases is important not only because it recognizes the struggles that millions of people experience but also because those who are educated and aware of the facts are better prepared to get an earlier diagnosis and treatment, ultimately saving lives.  I will end this with a quote from AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association) discussing the need to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases (March is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness month, which explains why the quote focuses on March):
During March, AARDA hopes to educate the public on the top five things everyone should know about autoimmune disease: (1) 50 Million Americans have an autoimmune disease, comprising a major U.S. health crisis. (2) There are 100+ autoimmune diseases including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and Addison’s disease. (3) Autoimmune diseases “cluster” in families; for example, if your grandmother had lupus, you could be at greater risk for developing an autoimmune disease. (4) Fewer than 13% of Americans can name an autoimmune disease. (5) Autoimmune diseases target women 75% more often than men; and combined, autoimmune diseases are one of the top ten killers of women under the age of 65.  
Increased levels of awareness amongst the general public is more important now than ever before according to AARDA’s President and Executive Director Virginia T. Ladd. She says, "Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease have all been shown to be on the rise, but answers as to why these increases are occurring are yet unknown. However, it is imperative that the public be more aware of their own risk factors for developing autoimmune diseases so that, as symptoms occur, they can seek a diagnosis and begin a treatment regimen. Early diagnosis and onset of treatment can make a significant difference in someone’s chances of becoming disabled or suffering organ damage.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hopeless, Helpless, Inadequate

If there was only one word I could use to describe how this disease feels, I would use the word hopeless. This disease makes you feel hopeless - hopeless and helpless. These two words sum up my feelings on Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. Now, I am not hopeless, by any means. I have hope in Christ but that is a different kind of hope, a hope that is certainty in my Savior. I am also hopeful that someday I will go in remission, that someday, somehow, I will find relief from this disease. I know I am not hopeless. However, I still feel hopeless. When you are in chronic pain, every moment of every day, it is almost impossible to not feel this way at least some of the time. My disease reminds me of it’s residency inside my body every waking moment of my life. It reminds me by the dull ache in my muscles and the intense pain in my joints, whether I am walking through a store, laying in bed trying to fall asleep, or simply adjusting myself while sitting on the couch. This disease reminds me of its existence by the utter exhaustion that racks both my body and mind, no matter the amount of sleep I get at night and no matter the amount of energy I have exerted or not exerted (as is more likely) that day. I am reminded of this disease by how well it has made itself at home inside of my body.
. I sit here, on my couch, exhausted, in pain, home from work after only two hours….the only two hours I have been able to work this week. My house is a disgusting wreck...the sink is piled high with dirty dishes, clean laundry is strewn across the living room while the bedroom is piled with dirty laundry. I hate it. I despise the mess. It is embarrassing and humiliating. I am angry I cannot keep up with the housework. I am angry I can barely make it to work each week. I am angry at what this disease has taken from me and continues to take from me. And I am filled with a deep, dismal, hopelessness as I sit and examine my surroundings and ponder my current life. Is this the rest of my life? Will it always be like that? The words of David come to mind, how long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? ( Ps 13:1; 22:1). I know my God has not forsaken me, nor has He forgotten me. But, sometimes it can feel like that. There is a reason the scriptures hold so many laments...they are real, they involve the many emotions and feelings that humans experience. They are spoken from the heart in times of distress --- times of pain and suffering, the times in life when hope seems nonexistent. That time for me is right now. . I am reminded of before I was diagnosed and my disease was not quite as rampant in my body. I remember one evening, exhausted and in pain, I pondered on whether I would ever get answers, whether I would ever find a diagnosis. I remember taking a bath and simply spending time, talking to the Lord, listening to the Lord, and thinking deeply about me, my undiagnosed illness, and whether or not the Lord would grant answers and relief to me. It hit me then that perhaps a diagnosis would not be made, perhaps answers would never be found, and perhaps this was the life I was given and the journey I must take. God does not promise healing in this life. Anyone who tells you otherwise has been sold a lie and is selling you a lie. All the faith and prayer in the world will not necessarily heal you; cancer patients still die, coma patients remain in their unconscious state, pain and suffering still remains. God is not a vending machine and He will not always do what we ask of Him or what we would like Him to do. God does promise to heal us after life on this earth and He promises eternal life to those who trust in Him. But we are not guaranteed health, wealth, and happiness this side of heaven (in fact, we are to expect the opposite). . I am reminded now, as I was reminded so long ago, that one night, taking a soak in the bathtub, that it is not our strengths but rather our weaknesses that glorify God the most. It is when I am weak that I find strength in the Lord. My weaknesses show the strength of a God who can overcome all of my weaknesses, all of my feelings of hopelessness, all of my pain and suffering. It is in my His strength and power is weaknesses that His power and strength is made perfect (2 Cor. 12). When I am weak, His strength is all the more evident and powerful. . I am now weaker than I was that night when I pondered my weaknesses and the strength and power of my God. The pain is bigger, the fatigue is stronger, and the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness have grown. But, God’s power and strength remains. His grace is still enough. He is still enough. “At first, I….begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness’. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (The Message, 1 Cor. 12:7-10). . I still hope for remission. I still pray for relief from this disease that wreaks havoc on my body, my life, and even my relationships. I am still in pain (and this most likely will not change from any amount of prayer or faith). I am still exhausted. But, I find solace, strength, and power in the One who made me, who loves me, who saved me, and who is and has always been faithful to His people. I am not even sure what my point is with all of this, or if I even had a point to begin with. But I hope that perhaps someone may find comfort in my words, find even a small amount of encouragement in my story, and know that they are not alone. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Finally some answers!

About three weeks ago, I had my rheumatologist appointment where I finally was given a diagnosis after ten years of battling chronic pain and fatigue.  My rheumatologist looked at and felt my joints and sent me off for blood work and some x-rays.  After some miscommunication with my doctor the next few days, I was given the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  To finally have a doctor listen to me and to finally get a diagnosis for what I have been going through for so long was so relieving and almost surreal.  I have been waiting so long to get some answers and now I finally have some.  However, it was also terrifying to be given a diagnosis, especially a diagnosis that is of a degenerative, progressive disease.  I have spent the past three weeks processing this diagnosis, wrapping my brain around the implications, both good and bad, that come with it.  I was put on a new medication right away that is meant to help with my symptoms and also slow down and hopefully prevent further damage within my body caused by this disease.  It has been in the past three days that I have begun to notice a tremendous improvement....something that has brought me to tears, tears of joy flowing from a heart that is so thankful.  I feel like a new person, a new me.  No, not even a new person, rather an old old me....the me from years ago, before this disease began to take over my life and dictate my life, my every thought, my actions.  I have had energy that I have not had in years and the pain has disappeared to a mere whisper.  I woke up this morning and I felt like a person.  It has been such a long time since I have woken up and felt like that. 

This is not to say that I have been cured completely of all my symptoms.  There is still a disease raging a war inside of my body, it is simply more under control now. My pain has not disappeared completely but if we're being honest, it is not likely that it ever will.  It is however, much more manageable, at least so far.  Yesterday was a rather active day for me, as I cleaned for a few hours in the morning before walking around down town with family and friends at a festival of sorts that our town has every year.  The amount of walking and activity took a toll on my body and I ended up needing to use my cane to help me out.  When I finally went to bed last night, all of my joints seemed to be on fire, especially my knees and I had to ice them.  But, even with the activity and the pain and inflammation that the activity induced, I woke up this morning only slightly stiff and sore and with an alertness and energy that has been missing from my life for so long.  Normally the mornings are rough, as my body is stiff and sore, and I usually awaken with a sort of fatigue induced brain fog so it has been such a wonderful experience the past few days. 

I have a lifelong battle ahead of me as I take on this disease but I have an immense amount of hope and optimism as I look towards the future, a hope and optimism that has been dead for so long, overtaken and choked out by extreme pain and a mummifying exhaustion and fatigue.  I have answers and with those answers, I have knowledge.  With that knowledge, I have power, power over this disease, power to fight back and take my life back from the clutches of this disease.  I now look forward, my head held high, possibly my cane in hand, ready to continue this journey called my life, hand in hand with my biggest supporter and fan, my husband.  I am excited, for the first time in a long time, for what the future my hold.  Come what may, I feel better prepared, even if my disease does progress and create more pain.  I am a warrior and I am ready.