For those of us living with chronic conditions, we have been faced with good and bad things that happen. For example, chronic pain is one of those bad things. However, in my experience, it isn’t all bad. I have had some really bad periods where I long for the “me” that I was before RA and fibromyalgia came into my life. I actually went through one of those bad periods recently and I have only recently gotten out of the worst of it. It started back in late May and it seemed like there was no end in sight. It was flare up after flare up, infection after infection, and just being sick over all. It was both a physical and an emotional setback for me. I found myself struggling with the return of my symptoms and at times, I felt emotionally challenged. It was anger and sadness as I dealt with some really bad days there.
Suffice to say, I am back among the normal people – well my kind of normal. No insult intended but among my fellow chronic illness sufferers on a good day. There were days in the past couple months that I wondered with all the sick time I took whether I should continue working. I found myself questioning myself and my abilities. I kept reminding myself that just because I am chronically ill doesn’t mean that I am not smart at or able to do my job. It is hard to believe that when my career path has suffered as a result of my chronic illness. I keep telling myself that I will have time to climb the career ladder when my kids are older but the fact is, my parenting isn’t what is hindering me. What is hindering me is my ability to be in a position where my employer knows I am chronically ill. I use my personal and vacation times to deal with my illness and my many responsibilities but employers somehow expect you to use all your time at once rather than sporadically. I wonder if anyone else deals with this issue.
This morning was a dry eye morning and my eyes can get pretty dry. Sometimes, it is so bad I can barely open them to be fully awake. It usually involves expensive eye drops and exposure to light to get them ready for the morning drive. I was grumpy as a result but I began to ponder about whether living with RA and fibromyalgia is really as bad as it feels in the morning or during a bad flare period.
I know without a doubt that RA and fibro changed not only changed me physically but they also changed me mentally and emotionally. I am definitely a different person, with different ethics and different morals, compared to the person I was before RA and fibro came into my life. Having RA and fibro has allowed me to gain empathy and kindness, and a stronger belief in the Almighty. They have forced me to stop and smell the roses and not to take life so seriously. As many of you know, I had to make career changes to accommodate RA and fibro into my life. I ended up not going to law school and leaving a high paying and stress filled job. I ended obtaining on a master’s in legal studies online and taking a lower paying position that involves less stress in order to keep my peace of mind. Physically, I feel like a crappy version of myself but mentally and emotionally, I feel like an all-round better person. And that is the trade off and I am okay with it. I really am.