These past two months I found myself hospitalized three times. First, I had a flare up of my arthritis and fibromyalgia. Then, a week later, I had a staph infection in my knee. A week after that, my PIC line catheter got infected and I was running a fever of 104.
Some would say bad luck follows me around, others think I’m a hypochondriac, and some people simply don’t care to be bothered by it all.
Whatever the case may be, I still get asked the same question by most people: How do I deal with everything that’s going on?
My response is always the same: I have no other choice! I can either allow my situation to consume me or I can put up a fight and remain strong.
There are many times when that idea is easier said than done. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel more times than I can count. On the outside, people see this well put together woman who has the strength of a lion. But inside all I want to do is crawl under a rock until it’s over.
Often times I find myself putting on an act, as if I have everything under control and nothing phases me. But I am human and I have moments of weakness, when I feel that life is unfair because I got stuck with these diseases. But no one wants to hear about that, they tend to tune you out when you’re complaining, so I hide the true me in order to please others.
The worst feeling is when I try to stay positive and I’m criticized by my own pain community, I’m either too positive and others dislike it, or I’m unrealistic and others criticize my attitude.
I think it hurts more when people who are also dealing with pain become hostile towards you simply because you’re trying to remain optimistic. If I say I have a great doctor who understands me, they say I’m the one in a million who has found a good doctor because they’ve had nothing but bad experiences and all doctors are the same. Anything I say is wrong or triggers outrage.
No two people are alike, I understand that. Someone’s situation may be worse than mine or better. However, when I speak or write, it’s about my personal experiences with pain and the medical field. I may handle my situation completely different than most people and that’s okay — there is no instruction manual on how to deal with auto immune diseases or severe pain. Most of us are learning as we go along.
No one way is right or wrong when dealing with pain or doctors. Everyone has their own technique that works for them. But if we all learn to support one another, whether it be a friend, family member, or fellow pain sufferer, I think we would become stronger individually and as a group.
Pain is something we can’t fight alone. Dealing with it could be made easier if we had the help of others.
Some days you may not feel like fighting and some days you may want to throw in the towel, but those are the days when the people around you need to help lift you up and keep you going.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, 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.