I just realized today, October 12th, is World Arthritis Day – and I decided that I should say something about it even though I hadn’t planned to write anything else medical this week, but, goodness knows, RA changed many things in my life.
I had to laugh too that today was a major rheumatologist appointment for me. I guess my rheumy and I observed the occasion together. 😉
In all seriousness, for me, developing rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and lower extremities, as well as my spine, led to my disability, to having to give up my work as a nurse.
It led to the long-term use of prednisone which caused the stress fractures throughout both of my feet as well as my chronic immunosuppression.
The domino effect resulted in infections leading to multiple surgeries in both feet as well as my hip and months of IV antibiotic therapy for osteomyelitis and sepsis.
As with many autoimmune patients, once I was dealing with RA, I developed several other autoimmune disorders as well.
Just looking at the RA itself though, it causes many systemic symptoms on its own.
I have a spoonie friend who is younger than me who has experienced a genetic sort of avalanche that began with RA and has ended with hospice and I am terribly sad to say she will not be with us much longer.
Learning this a few weeks ago also contributed to my having a few days away from posting. These are the things that happen that are the most difficult to take – and to talk about – in the spoonie life.
Still, it is a part of living with autoimmune disease.
However. . .
Though my previous post was about how ill I’ve been – and this one is also heavy – I would be remiss if I didn’t also say how many blessings I have in dealing with my illness.
My husband and daughter are absolutely amazing and look after me and help me and I am so loved and always have everything I need. So many people who deal with chronic illnesses like RA are not as fortunate.
My parents and friends are always in touch and checking in by phone and I never feel forgotten, even during this time of quarantine – when the moat around our house is filled and I cannot be around people outside of our immediate family.
Even though I had to stop working as a nurse, I’ve been able to start writing here and working on my first book and going back to school – a dream of mine – so I am still able to accomplish things I’ve always wanted to do and be productive.
Today, my doctor really listened and worked to help me sort out these crazy symptoms I’m having since taking hell’s own antibiotic to try to set me back on a path to my baseline. It’s not always easy to get help when things have gone so awry and I am truly thankful.
Even in the face of RA and other illnesses, I DO have much to be grateful for. There are so many people with this disease who don’t have the support system that I do and I cannot imagine trying to manage without my people.
So, on this Arthritis Awareness Day, I would just remind everyone that it is a really difficult and life-altering disease to live with – and, if you know someone who is living with it who might need a little extra help – or just some extra care and love, maybe offer a hand when you can.
You never know who might need you or when just a little extra love might make a huge difference.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.