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I sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses

Posted Oct 15 2012 12:00am

My posts for the past few months have brought some bad news and I have wished that was not the case. Nevertheless, it is what it is.  My mom’s health took a downturn.  I had to change some of my plans because of obstacles that were out of my control.  My RA has been all over the place and guess what? It is all just life.  All of this stuff, health issues, families, unruly children, careers and aging parents, are just part life. We would not be alive if we did not experience these things. The truth is that I sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses.

Four years since my diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and so much has happened, some good and some bad.  Not all of it had to do with my RA and fibro and actually, the worst of it had nothing to do with my RA and fibromyalgia. What had to do with my RA and fibro was more of a learning experience if anything. I gained my own experience living with both diseases but I have also learned a lot from connecting with others struggling with similar issues.  When I discuss my life with RA and fibro here and at my advocacy sites, I offer information and advice that is real. I am not someone with a professional degree but I am someone who has lived with chronic pain and all the things that go with it.  Like every one of you, I have struggled with my roles as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee and a person with dreams.  I have experienced loss, failure and success. I have gained weight living with the disease and I have also made smart choices to lose weight that I have gained. I have worked hard to find a diet that worked for me and I have also regained the strength to be active again.

My life with RA and fibro has been about finding out who I am and finding out what works for me. Sometimes, that journey was difficult, sometimes easy and other times, rather clumsy. The fact is I am still learning every day.  Just like many others, I have struggled with my career, my friendships and my personal relationships. I am not always proud of the choices I make or the struggles I have endured, but RA and fibro have allowed me to see the best in myself and best in others.  It is not until I stop and smell the roses do I realize how blessed and fortunate I am on.

It will be two years in December since my brother passed away. It was about this time two years ago that he was diagnosed.  He was given a death sentence and his illness and his death have haunted me for quite so time. I know that what happened wasn’t anyone’s fault but it was an ordeal for him and us.  Yesterday, I visited his grave and I shared with him what had transpired with Mom’s health even though I knew he probably already knew. I just needed to get my feelings out it – how scared I was, how angry I was and how hopeful I was.  I might be scared and angry but I am also hopeful that my mother will make a full recovery. 

When my brother was sick, I kind of felt like I was carrying the entire world on my shoulders because my mom was relying on me to be strong when she couldn’t be. I feel like that again like I need be strong when no one else is. The good news is that the doctors say Mom should recover fully and so far, she is showing a lot of good progress.  After she is done with rehab, she had to make better choices to make sure that she doesn’t have another stroke.  There is always that possibility but I have faith in her and in the Almighty that things will continue to look up.  I have learned that sometimes it is better to look at the here and now than to focus so much on possible and impossible outcomes.   You would think that all these years living with chronic illness, I would have figured out that I cannot control anything but I am yet to learn that lesson.

I had a pleasant Saturday with my kids and my nieces and nephew.  We went to a Pumpkin farm and had a great time. They had a Halloween funhouse, a Wild West show, a hayride, and more. The kids had a blast and we went to dinner afterwards and then, the kids went to visit their grandmother at the rehab facility.  My sister and brother-in-law are currently out of the country.  They are doing their religious pilgrimage and they will be back in about two weeks. They only left a few days ago and I think they are doing a really great thing.  The timing isn’t so great but their affairs are in order and it was something very important to them and I am very proud of them for this undertaking.  They have actually taken the time to smell the roses and to fulfill an important part of their religious journey. I am very happy for them.  The kids are well taken care of and their financial affairs are order so why not?

Looking at all things I have endured and accomplished in the past few years, I know that life is full of pressures. You have workplace pressures and you have pressures at home. So many issues come up that I don’t always take the time to breathe but the fact is, the roses are always out there. Rain or shine – you can find roses somewhere.  We often overlook all the pleasant things happening in our lives because all the unpleasant seem to overshadow them.  The problem is that life moves so fast and if we don’t stop to look around and smell the roses, we all miss out on life. We worry about the present and we worry about the future. It is easy to forget the good in our lives when we are so busy worrying about the things we have no control over and in some cases, the things that have not yet happened.

Fall is my favorite time of the year and being out with the kids made for a really good day this past Saturday.  I love how beautiful the outdoors are in the Fall and I love the pleasant weather. For most part, also, my RA symptoms are under control this time of the year.  I just needed to remind myself how important it was to smell the roses and I am glad I did.

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