Sarah has PsA (Psoriatic Arthritis) and a year or so ago I visited her in a nursing home after a terrible flare up. Today on Facebook Sarah wrote about her long and successful climb back to encourage those new to the disease, but I believe her message is also an encouragement for those facing other health challenges.
“Today I had an appointment with my rheumy, who I have come to like very much. When we first met last January 2014, I was in a wheelchair, it was 23 degrees below zero outside and I was in so much pain, I could barely move. I was so weak that I couldn't even kick off sheets from my legs. Everything hurt and I do mean everything, because I'd been off my Remicade since August due to a tooth infection that went nuts in my body and gave me what I call my super flare and led to 2 weeks in the hospital and 3 months in a nursing home, because I literally could not stand, toilet, walk, wash- -nothing.
Fast forward to today. My rheumy said he thought that I was glowing (I thought ... glowing?? I'm certainly not pregnant, lol). He said that with as many things as I had going on and all the meds, I looked absolutely joyful - to which I replied, I try and when I'm down, I very much remember the distance I've come. That I can now walk, go to the store, drive a car, take a shower, take out my trash, pick up my cat, change her litter box - most all of what I did before, except working. But even that is all right because I had 32 years at Ohio State University. Although I had planned to work another 10 years, this is what happened and I am now in a better place than I had been for the past 15 yrs.
So what is my message? Well, it is that there is light after darkness. That often you will have to dig deeper in yourself than you ever thought possible. That things happen for a reason, although you might not know that reason. That there are always options, even though you thought you might not ever have considered those unknown to you. That you are here for a reason and you will learn the lessons and you will be of help to others. That your pain is real and so is your joy and in time, you can learn to experience more joy than pain or even both at the same time - but you won't be held down by the pain, unless you choose to be.
The good news is that medicine has made advances and those of us with this disease have so much more available to us than previous generations. With the internet we can become educated and better advocates for ourselves. Now we have choices.”