Christmas 2010 draws to a close and I am (finally) back home, sitting on my couch and reflecting. This is my fourth Christmas with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Or is it fifth? When did it really start? Seems a long time now, and yet I still remember what life was like ‘Before’. But while I remember what that life was like, there is now the realisation that life will probably never be like that again.
But life is still good. I feel lucky because although many of my joints ached today and last night at the traditional family gatherings, I was able to join in, and converse, and enjoy people’s company. Other years I have been couch bound. So this was good. Mostly.
However, there was one thing I did very differently this year. I was more honest. Not completely honest, admittedly. Cos lets face it, those who don’t suffer this disease probably couldn’t take complete honesty. But *more* honest.
For example when my brother in law asked “How are you doing today?” instead of answering “Fine.” (as I usually would) I said “Doing it a little tough. Quite sore, but glad I’m here.” When my old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a year asked the same question, I told her that I was up and down, good days and bad days. We used to go running together. We did that for years. She asked when I would be getting back into it. I told her sadly, I definitely can’t run anymore, and I wouldn’t be joining her running anytime soon. Which makes me very sad, cos I used to love doing that with her. Last year I told her I was going to kick this arthritis thing in the butt this year and would be back on the 5km track with her. But that didn’t happen. The magic meds didn’t kick in. I did not run anywhere. But I did say that I can go swimming, and I’ll join her at the pool sometime soon. So it’s not all bad!
And when my mother asked me to carve the roast, I politely declined, and explained that my hands were too painful. I couldn’t even cut my own meat on my plate, actually. But I ate lots of veg, and I LOVE veg!
So in the end my Christmas was great – but not ‘normal’. Or not the old normal. I guess it’s the ‘new’ normal. And while accepting that fact might be a step forward…it also feels like a step back. Like giving in…But what is more stupid than wasting time worrying about what I can’t do anymore? I could be spending that time doing things I still can. So I will. If there’s one thing that getting sick has taught me, it’s appreciation. And at least now, I definitely appreciate the things I have, the people who matter and the things I can still do.