I’m mad. Like really mad. Really really angry. I’m also scared to death. Absolutely terrified. Rheumatoid arthritis was not part of my plan. I mean, is it really ever part of anyone’s plan? But it was definitely not part of my plan. And I’m a plan kind of girl.
I don’t have time for this. Time is so very precious to me. Every incremental six minutes of my life has value. Professional, parental, personal. Every minute matters. I have three children to care for. I have a husband I already overburden. I have a career. I have a house. I have a community. I’ve got about 10 loads of laundry waiting for me and a week’s worth of dishes piled up in the kitchen. I do not have time to lie in bed cautiously, hopefully, tentatively moving fingers and toes to judge the pain level for the day. I don’t have time to spend gazing blindly out my office window distracted from deadlines by pain, exhaustion, and fear. I don’t have time to plop onto the couch with the baby the minute I get home at night, too sore and too tired to move until I can justify the long walk from couch to bed. I don’t have time.
I don’t have time to struggle with buttons and pony tail holders – and jewelry! Let’s not even go there. I don’t have time to limp down the street from the far parking lot. I don’t have time to wait for the elevator when I only have to go to the third floor and just can’t handle the stairs. I don’t have time to lie awake at night feeling like someone is stabbing my shoulders and knees and ankles with hot pokers. I don’t have time to not be able to get my son’s zipper up on his jacket or my daughter’s shoes tied, or sippy cups opened, or laundry folded or Any.Of.This. I am so MAD.
I’m lucky, I know. I was diagnosed with RA after only a few months of unexplained horrible pain in my feet and knees that left me hobbling around shortly after the birth of my third child. I’m lucky that I have good health insurance and good doctors and a fabulous rheumatologist whom I absolutely adore after just one meeting with him. I’m lucky that I have access to good drugs that I pray will get me back to a place where I can feel and function like my normal self. Like the mom they need, the wife he needs, the attorney they pay, the girl who works hard, pitches in, helps out, can be depended on.
My husband teases me about my plans. I didn’t plan to move across the country to attend law school. I didn’t plan to have a baby in my first year of law school. I didn’t plan to buy the first house I saw. I didn’t plan to leave a job that I had loved for such a long time weeks before making partner and start over with a new job and a new baby and RA to boot. I never even really planned on having three children. That feels so extravagant, three children. I didn’t plan on a work at home husband. I didn’t plan on a super successful and busy work at home husband. But, thank God for life unplanned. I wouldn’t change a thing. My life is perfect. And if I somehow have to fit RA into the perfection that is my unplanned life, then Bring. It. On.
Because RA, you can’t have my life. If you insist on being here, you find yourself a little corner and you sit there and shut up. This is my life, my perfect life, and you cannot have it. There may be days when you think you have the upper hand, but don’t get cocky, because I am keeping an eye on you at every moment, and I have eyes in the back of my head. I will find a place for you. I may even learn to accept you, but you will not win. Everything in my life happens for a reason. Every unplanned event has meaning and purpose. That includes you, RA. Maybe someday I will thank you for helping me to slow down, to appreciate the little things a little more, to appreciate the big things a lot more, and showing me just how strong I can be. But today, you just sit there and shut up. I have things to do.