A few times a year I have an appointment. And appointment to talk about my body.
Over the years I have learned that if I don't bring something to keep my eyes and ears and mind and fingers busy I will work myself into a tizzy while I wait. I walk with purpose, keep my eyes forward and I check myself in. Name, birthdate, fill out the aches and pains questionnaire, answer questions such as-do you have trouble getting yourself dressed? Do you have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? On a scale of one to ten how do you feel your diagnosis affects your daily life?- Pay my copay, Back to the waiting room, sit down. Before I walk into the office I am a 32 year old woman, who lives life without much complaint, is thankful for all that she has, a woman grateful that she can cling to a savior instead of her own understanding. I don't identify myself with my diagnosis, I am in pain everyday period....there isn't a whole lot of thought put into the pain thing, its part of my life period. When I walk into the office though I am faced with my reality, I am surrounded by folks usually at least 30 years my senior, white hair, canes, hobbling, all of the things I feel but do not say, do not speak because they are true for me too but I very much would rather pretend that they are not. I walk out of the office stifling tears, speaking disgust to myself and resenting the truth. I deny love for myself in that area and by the time I reach the car I have convinced myself that in order to move forward I will just be stronger, work harder, stand taller.
I am a shover by nature, things that hurt, things that are uncomfortable, things that make me feel weak or out of control are often shoved. Shoved and hidden. Some of this comes out of my past need to survive, some comes from my need to appear strong, some is because i hate being taken care of, and some or a lot of it comes from pride. And the cause of these appointments is one of things I shove very well.
There hasn't been a day in the last 9 years that I haven't been in pain. My original diagnosis was Rheumatoid Arthritis. The name or label didn't really matter to me because I wasn't going to rest in it. I wasn't going to let myself simply just live with that "opinion" I was going to fight it. Because if I acted as if the pain wasn't there, if I lived a life that was healthy and "good" than surely I could escape the reality. I mean someone who exercises regularly, runs half marathons, eats organic-locally sourced food, avoids packages and preservatives and fills up on leafy greens, couldn't possibly be affected by an auto-immune disease. Right???? And so I ran, and I threw out a freezer worth of packaged foods and I learned to cook well and proper. And the denial, it worked partially, inflammation is very effectively treated with diet and exercise and in the beginning those things provided a very great amount of relief. But then I got injured a few times and my Dr. said no more long distance running, less than 7 miles. And so I would run 6 miles instead of 10 and I continued to eat well and that carried on for some time. Every time I went for my check up the Dr. would suggest remedy for my inflammation that was out of control and medications were discussed and treatment plans were laid out and I would listen do my duty in the imaging world and move forward. Denial became comfortable and resting in my own understanding became easy. I continually refused all treatment, stating that when it became a need and the side effects were outweighed by my condition we could explore it more fully. I became my own hero.
Than the past year happened. My lower spine and hips began to hurt something furious, I couldn't sit or stand or lay down without pain. And pushing through, pretending became more difficult. Sleep was non existent, I was feeling the pressure of my inability to accept myself. I had reached a point of taking 600mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours and that was just taking the edge off. I had reached the point I had spoke of so many times and although I had told myself I would be ready and that I would take care of myself, the truth in that was hard to stomach and the pattern of fighting continued. The summer before last I was still traveling back and forth across the state to my previous rheumatologist. At my last appointment my Dr. said you have got to come to grips with your diagnosis, You have to take care of yourself, the exhaustion and fighting to accept what you think you want to be true has to stop. I came back to spokane and I made an appointment with a new Dr. On my first visit he looked through my chart and looked at me and said you are a brand new patient today, we are going to start completely from scratch.
Over the last months I have learned that i do not in fact have RA. I have a genetic abnormality that causes issues in my lower spine and sacrum. It is in fact very much part of me. It is very much something that I can not change stop or get rid of. There is no pretending, it is in my genes. And I resent the hell out of that. Most days I do not have a great outlook about it, most days I do not want people to know I struggle with chronic pain, most days I do not want to go to the Dr. regularly and further more I do not want to be part of any treatment plan that includes medication. I've been so incredibly good at taking care of my body, I don't do drugs, drink to much or smoke, I eat properly and stay active, I'm not overweight or lazy. I've been good! But the truth is I was created this way from the day I was born I had this abnormality. And so no amount of my striving or justifying why I should not be experiencing this will provide me with a different outcome.
This past summer though that had to change. I had a very real appointment with my Dr. after having a very real conversation with my husband. Things are continually getting harder for me to hide, there are more days that getting out of bed hurts and hurts bad, if I sit for any amount of time I resemble that of one of those people in the Dr.'s office, I hobble and have to loosen up. I've had to cancel plans on occasion to sit in the tub or just lay on the couch. So the question has come up, Is it worth it. Is pretending that I've got this more important than treating my body with medication? Were my choices actually doing me more harm? What was going to win my pride or my need to care for my body? So I walked into that office and asked my Dr. those hard questions and he replied, yes you are causing harm. And so we formed a treatment plan I agreed to follow, I was prescribed a medication and agreed to take it. And it hasn't been easy, and I still catch myself fighting it. I still catch myself trying to claim a different reality.
I have a friend, the farmer, she has been telling me for years that the tree of life is not self-pruning. I have rejected her statement, knowing full well its true but not wanting it to be true for me. Hoping that I would be the exception not the rule. My prayer though lately would be that I would accept that truth that I preach in every other area of my life in this area too. I don't get to be in charge of my weakness, I can not combat it on my own, my sin is not solved on its own, and I can't simply ignore it and be a good girl as I walk away. Nope....I have many options thats true. There is one though that is actually going to provide relief. I can lay this resentment, this weakness at the foot of the cross and I can take my eyes off it and look up in order to see the face of a creator who loves me and accepts me wholly and completely. I can move forward boldly knowing that it is part of me of me but it doesn't define me any more than the red hair upon my head. That someone died for me specifically so I would not have to be self absorbed in worry and resentment.
And so the cats out of the bag. I am in pain daily. My body hurts and I often feel weak. I am currently waiting to get prescriptions for a weekly series of shots that will combat that pain, inflammation and weakness. And my dealing with it signifies a love for a creator that made me with a plan and a purpose. He is strong so that I am able to be weak. And when my resentment takes over I can remind myself that I am free from a need to prove my worthiness for good things. I will never be worthy on my own right. Jesus died so that I would know that I am so very loved and accepted for who I am, And out of that I can love and accept myself for who I am.
I walk forward as I do when I was pretending there was nothing wrong a 32 year old woman, who lives life without much complaint, is thankful for all that she has, a woman grateful that she can cling to a savior instead of her own understanding. A woman who can be bold and transparent. And admit that sometimes stuff is tough and acceptance for myself is a struggle but I am not alone. I am free from striving, free from proving, free from earning. Loved, broken and completely renewed.
Walk in love friends- You too have been set free from your earthly woes. You have a way out that is so far beyond your own understanding.