Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Won't Surrender

     "I won't surrender, I will fight better." - This is War, by Ingrid Michaelson.
      The first time I heard this lyric, I immediately thought about my arthritis. Now, I will admit that a lot of things make me think of my arthritis. But that is only because I live with it, deal with it, and feel it every moment of every day. It really kills me when people think that the best way to handle a chronic illness is to ignore it. I have arthritis. It's there. And yes, I do think about it. But I don't dwell on it. I cannot ignore it when I am in a lot of pain, but it's not the center of my world; in fact, it's far from it.
      I am not done in my fight against arthritis. My strength has been depleted and most days leave me feeling beaten down and somewhat conquered, but I am more than arthritis. I play piano, I am a Christian, I am head-over-heels in love with biology, and I have a little bit of an obsession with tea parties. I am not juvenile arthritis.
I am fighting this disease.
     I do not plan to stop now. It would simply be unfair to stop fighting. It would be unfair to myself. I would be discrediting all of the work I've done so far. It would also be unfair to my friends and family who have been soldiers in the battle. Even if I lose nine days out of ten, I'm not stopping. 
     I'm very interested in whether or not my JA and RA friends find that their joints hurt worse when they're sick or not. I've been sick since Christmas night with a coughing, headache, stomach, and fatigue thing, and I've been running a fever too. My body has just felt really terrible even aside from the arthritis. But the sickness has caused my joints to be ridiculously unbearable. They are constantly stiff and I woke up many, many times two nights ago with a throbbing wrist and freezing from my fever. However, some people that I've spoken to have said that they experience great relief from their arthritis during unrelated sicknesses. The thought behind this is that the immune system gets "busy" working on attacking the sickness and doesn't worry about the joints. I sure do wish I was one of those people! 
      I'd also like to use this post to say welcome back to my back. After some really tough rounds of methotrexate and Enbrel, my back pain pretty much disappeared. This was wonderful, as I gained back some flexibility and it stopped bothering me so much. As of about two weeks ago, my back pain has slowly been creeping back in, and now it's like the pain-free period never happened. It's at its worst in the car. I'm just thankful that I don't ride the bus to or from school! I can't even imagine the kind of discomfort that would bring about. Even cars hurt, so larger vehicles would probably be brutal.
     I don't want to be the blogger or friend who tells the world that chronic illness is easy, or that optimism isn't a struggle. I don't want to dress up arthritis and make it seem like less of a problem than it is. I want this blog to be honest. Arthritis does hurt, and very much so. Arthritis is the kind of thing that can pull you down further and further until you realize that you're Alice, sucked into a hole that you stumbled over. Some days, the hole is dark and frightening and you simply wish that you'd never fallen in. But until we get out, we might as well discover Wonderland.
     "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22). This verse has been at the bottom of my blog (along with a couple of others) for a while now, but I felt that it was necessary to bring it up in a post. We have reasons to be cheerful that have nothing to do with our health.

Love,
Rachel

2 comments:

  1. Hey dear,
    I popped over after you commented on my blog, Not Standing Still's Disease, and I have to say that I'm falling in love with your blog! It is so tough to live with autoimmune arthritis at any point in life, but to do it while so young is so much more difficult than anyone really knows I think. You can't always be positive - and it wouldn't be good for raising awareness I think either! People have to see what living with this stuff is like and that is the only way they will understand it better. I also love your bit about Alice and Wonderland. Sometimes there is very little known about these illnesses that I feel like Alice or another kind of explorer running on unmapped ground and trying to show doctors and such what the landscape is like. You sound like such a tough chick and I have no doubt that things will start to improve for you soon. In the meantime rest up :)
    Kirsten xx

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Feel free to comment or shoot me an email - thekidwitharthritis@gmail.com I'll try to get back to you either way!