Feeling Good is a Full-Time Job

I’ve always had health issues. Let’s just say my immune system and I have never been on the best of terms.  At the age of 13, a swollen, painful ankle turned into a surprising diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I had been an athlete up until then, with dreams of possibly getting a college scholarship in softball or maybe basketball.  That all vanished.  I struggled for years with chronic pain and depression.  All through high school and my college years, I had to find ways to deal with the pain, fatigue, and bewilderment of my peers, who thought I was joking when I told them I had arthritis. The Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis eventually went into remission, but I have had chronic pain ever since. When I was in my early 40’s, I finally got a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus, after having weird symptoms and worsening pain for years. Lupus is sometimes called “the cruel mystery”, because it can take years to diagnose and often people are given incorrect diagnoses along the way. I was told I had fibromyalgia, rosacea, bursitis, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, and it’s all in my head-itis. I was relieved when I finally got the correct diagnosis and was put on meds that would slow the progression of the disease and decrease the pain. When I found a lump in my breast a few years later, I thought certainly I had been through enough medically and it couldn’t possibly be cancer. Boy, was I wrong. I got through that, thanks in part to some of the lessons I learned earlier in my life about separating my emotional from my physical well-being. Now, I’m 46 years old, post-menopausal (thanks to some bad ovaries and chemotherapy), still have Lupus, and am a cancer survivor. I’m tired from the minute I wake up to the time I go to bed. Feeling good has turned into a full-time job for me. I have to make sure I’m taking my meds (whose side effects include pain and fatigue – oh, joy!), eating right, exercising, and following up with my various doctors. I make a special protein drink every morning with fresh fruit and almond milk, try to stretch each morning, and attempt to get to the gym each week to keep active and decrease the risk of cancer recurrence. I have to have labwork done every few months to monitor my meds and to make sure the Lupus isn’t progressing and the cancer isn’t back. I take supplements and have stopped buying foods that are processed or have too many ingredients I can’t pronounce. I try, I really do, to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and healthy. I have an actual full-time job, as well as two small children and a partner. I guess my immune system and I will never be friends, but I’m hoping, with all the work I’m doing, we can at least be on speaking terms.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. floridaborne
    May 27, 2013 @ 02:20:51

    I knew a woman of who had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She was blind at 20 and very close to the point where she was going to need a walker or wheelchair. Good to know that there are people who don’t have it that bad.

    Reply

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