Whenever a person is faced with life-changing news, especially the negative kind, coming to terms with that reality becomes challenging.
I still remember the day my doctor told me I had rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I refused to accept his diagnosis and was sure he must have been mistaken.
I went on for two years as if nothing was wrong — until the day I had no choice but to accept the hand I was dealt.
I was driving to my daughter’s preschool with swollen joints and very little mobility. I opened her door and attempted to take her out of her car seat, but my fingers were so stiff that I couldn’t unhook her straps. I began to cry and felt hopeless.
One of the school workers walked by and I asked him to help get my daughter out. In one swift move he unhooked her and she was released from her chair.
It was then that I realized I couldn’t run or hide from my pain anymore. I needed to make a change, if not for myself, then for my daughter.
I decided to educate myself as much as possible and learn what my auto-immune diseases were. I looked for books, holistic remedies and anything that would help me in my battle against pain. Even though I was accepting my so-called fate, I was still holding on to the hope that one day I would be healthy again.
I started taking my medication as directed, followed up with a rheumatologist, and little by little I saw results. I was still in pain and had regular flares, but it wasn’t anything compared to how I had felt. I was able to focus more on being a mother than on my suffering.
I don’t have a quick 5 step program on how to reach acceptance, but I would have to compare it to the stages of grief. I was angry and cried in the beginning, and tried to make deals with God about being a better person if he would only heal me. Then I hated everyone because they didn’t know how lucky they were to have their health and isolated myself.
But once I stopped trying to find a reason why I was chosen to carry such a heavy cross, I felt more at peace. No amount of anger, frustration, cursing, or hatred was going to change things. The only way I was going to get better was if I picked myself up, metaphorically speaking, and moved forward.
I’m no longer spending my time focusing on the negative or wondering what my life could have been like. Everyday I wake up and come to terms with my pain and I remind myself that I can still be happy. It’s a personal decision I have to make daily.
Arlene Grau lives in southern California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.