For a few months now I have been thinking about this post and praying I find the words I need to write it. I have sat down countless times to write, and every time I get more emotional than a pregnant woman eating ice cream while watching "The Notebook". I mentioned in a past post that I was having a hard time celebrating my small victories. Well, since then I have been showered with nonstop blessings, and I don't have a choice but to be happy about it.
So after a loooong time of switching from med to med... and doctor to doctor, I finally found a team of doctors I can trust. My Rheumatologist is very attentive, and actually examines, and listens to me at every visit. Right now she has me on Enbrel, methotrexate injections, and of course that comes with daily folic acid. I have tried the methotrexate (they call this the chemo med) before in pill form with a low dose, and absolutely nothing happened. So my new Rheumatologist (Dr. O) put me on injections with a higher dose weekly. I haven't noticed much as far as the pain goes... That's still there, BUT I do notice I have more energy, and that's always nice. The down side to that though is it makes me really dizzy and nauseated and I have lost quite a bit of my hair. But hey, I'll take less hair as long as I can stay awake all day. Ha! So Dr. O referred me to a pain management doctor. After some new X-rays we found more deterioration in my knee joints, and he seemed very concerned about how fast it is happening. So, he suggested I do a round of treatments on my knees where a synthetic cartilage is injected into the knee. I just finished the last of 5 weekly treatments this past Monday. I have noticed a small decrease in pain and inflammation since we have started. I am still recovering from the last treatment, but I am hopeful it will allow me to be able to use my crutches very short distances, and possibly start some physical therapy. So there is my physical update folks! I am happy I am finally starting to have some progress. I have to be honest and say that I struggle everyday, and I'm in pain most of the time, but I am really feeling hopeful that there might be a light at the end of this tunnel even if it's just a tiny speck of light right now.
As I look back on the last 4 years (it will be 5 this October) with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I really am humbled and I get tears every time I think about the miracles that have happened in that time. This last month my family made a Father's Day gift for my grandpa. He is such an amazing man. He's going through some tough things physically as well. So, we all decided to write him letters to him telling about our favorite memories of him, how much we love him, and really we just wanted to give him a little pick-me-up. This letter got me thinking a lot about my own struggle with my health. So, I decided and really felt like I needed to share a piece of that letter here with you all. I wrote:
...Grandpa, I know you aren't feeling well lately. It hurts my heart to think of you having to deal with being sick. As you know I myself have been dealing with my own illness. This October will be my 5th year of fighting RA. To me that's exactly what it has felt like... Fighting. I feel like I have been fighting so many wars, and I would be a liar if I told you there weren't days I am just plain tired. I get tired of going to see doctor after doctor, and watching the clock to make sure I take my medications on time. I get tired of feeling like an invalid while being pushed in a wheelchair. I get tired of trying to explain the way I am feeling to everyone all the while knowing I can never put it into words in a way anyone can truly understand. It's a lonely place. It's a sad place, and when I have those days I often wonder what I am good for. My body doesn't allow me to do what my mind dreams of. I can't push my baby girl on a swing at the park, I can't run and play with her like the other mothers. I can't cook and clean and grocery shop. If I can't do what I have been taught my whole life I need to do as a wife and mother... Then what good am I? These are all thoughts I have from time to time. I have found that it is normal to feel depressed, and that I need to let myself feel sad. Through much prayer, I have been taught by a loving Heavenly Father that it is okay to mourn the life I once had. The life I thought I was going to have, and find my new life. The new life I have found is so sweet. Instead of finding joy in pushing Daisy on a swing like I used to, I now notice her smile as she asks me to watch her pump her legs, and learn to swing herself. In those moments I soak up everything. I am now able to see not one blessing but many. I notice her giggle, I see the beauty of the sunshine as it hits her beautiful blonde hair and makes it sparkle. I see her look up into the sky without a care in the world, and most of all, I see that just having me be there to watch her is all she needs to be happy. In those moments I realize. I am good for something. I am needed. I am wanted. I am loved. It may not be the way I thought it should have been, but like I said before it is oh so sweet. Grandpa, I can understand your trial at this time. I really can. I know it's so hard to have mind and body at war with eachother. My only prayer for you is that after this war you are faced with, after the fighting, and the exhaustion, and after you let yourself be sad; that you are able to look up and find a way to keep going. You too are good for something, you too are needed, and wanted and most importantly you are so very LOVED.
In a nutshell that is exactly what my journey has been teaching me. All things are in the Lord's time. He knows what we need. He knows how to help us grow, and he knows us better that we know ourselves. This has truly been and continues to be a war I am fighting. There were times when I honestly didn't know if I could keep going. I would pray at night and pour my heart out to The Lord, and beg him to heal me. I was feeling so sick and lousy that I really was scared that this was it for me. I don't want to be dramatic but I am sharing this in the hope that it will help someone, anyone out there who is dealing with a struggle in their lives. Prayer is what got me through it, and continues to help me. Even though I couldn't put into words that would explain to others how I felt, I knew I could always rely on my Heavenly Father to understand just what I was feeling, and I knew I could always talk to him. There were countless times I'd wake up weak and tired, and pray to The Lord for the strength I needed to get through the day. Then half the day would go by, and I'd say WOW... He really did bless me with that strength I asked for. I know that what I am going through is for a reason. It is to help me grow, and it is to help me and my family become closer. I read a quote recently saying:
It's oh so true. I have experienced it first hand. I have never been left alone, not even once. I have been uplifted and comforted the whole way, and I continue to benefit from the blessings of prayer. I continue to feel the outpouring of blessings and love from my Heavenly Father, and boy am I a lucky girl now that I can see it all and notice how The Lord is teaching me in my life. He didn't give me the life I was asking for, he gave me one that is better that I even knew existed.