Whew!!! Its been awhile I know. So much has been happening in my little world and although writing is such a great outlet for me sometimes life is so overwhelming that writing is the last thing that I can do. Sometimes you have to just retreat into your safe place and regroup, that is where I have been, in my safe place trying to regroup. Some of that has been successful some of it not so much. Right now I am at a place in my journey where I am seriously asking “What could I have done to deserve all this? What now, what do I do? Where do I turn? How will I be able to get through this?” I am only one person and everyone has a breaking point.
Life has thrown me yet another curve ball. At every turn just when I think there isn’t anything else I can handle there it is right on my lap. On February 27th I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At first it was just a few days of shock and maybe even some relief because at least now I had an answer to the extreme pain, stiffness, and swelling that had started to occur. I had sudden onset and when it came on it hit with a bang. I went to bed one night and felt ok and when I woke up the next morning my left wrist, hand, and fingers were swollen, tight and extremely painful to use. I initially thought I had slept on my arm wrong and a previous shoulder injury possibly had aggravated it. The next morning I woke up and the exact thing was happening to my right wrist, hand, and fingers. After about 4-5 days of trying to navigate through and live with that pain it began to subside. Within a week of those symptoms I woke up one morning and my right shoulder was in severe pain. I couldn’t raise my arm, I couldn’t use it hardly at all. Within hours my left shoulder begin to feel the same way. For almost a week I was unable to use either of my arms from my shoulder down to the tips of my fingers. This was a pain I had never experienced. I will remind you I am no stranger to pain in my life. My life has been rooted in pain from before I could ever even remember. My body has been through more things than most people can’t even imagine, but this pain, yeah this pain is a beast. I have never been faced with a pain I can’t push through. I have always been able to focus and push through the pain to do what I need to do and get things done but this mess just locks me down.
When I went to my doctor on the 27th I had a suspicion that this may be what was happening but I was definitely praying against it. After a thorough exam, review of symptoms, and family history she was pretty sure about the diagnosis but as I found out there isn’t one definitive test that can be done. Diagnosis is made through a combination of things. I was sent to the lab to have some blood work…..and then you wait…. Three days later I received the results and they were not good. The three main test that the doctor was concerned about was the RF factor test, the A-CCP test, and the ANA test. All three were positive. Positive reading for RF factor would be <14, Mine was 252. Positive reading for the A-CCP would be Strong positive >59, Mine was >250. Positive reading for ANA, it came back with a positive IFA with a speckled pattern which is associated with mixed connective tissue disease. My mind was reeling. With everything combined I now have a definitive diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis and it was bad, I am confirmed seropositive and the disease is progressive and very aggressive. It was coming on hard and fast.
I am 35 years old, I am already an amputee that deals with severe nerve damage, neuropathy pain, degenerative disc disease, and now this potentially debilitating disease where my own immune system attacks my joints. I think this is it. This may very well be my breaking point. This last month I have spent many days in bed, hurting so bad unable to move much. I need my hands, my arms to transfer my self from one place to my chair, and then I need my hands to push my wheels. A lot of days I am just left feeling helpless and hopeless asking myself and God if I am being completely honest Why, Why God are you giving me another thing to carry. I have stayed quiet telling very few and trying still to just process what this means for me now, what it means for my family. Waiting for dawn and what each new day will bring sometimes with a fear in my heart that each time I wake up it will be with an immobilizing pain and I will once again be frozen in time as everyone else continues on with life around them.
The one thing I can say about this new phase of my journey is that it has probably saved my marriage. Brian and I have been in such a vulnerable place. For so long we have been going in opposite directions. Love was not the problem, we have plenty of love but we all know that marriage takes more than love. This has all reminded me of my safe place, my soft place to fall and that is with Brian. Neither of us is perfect and man do we have work to do, but I am so grateful for this Godly man that has stuck by me through every bad thing that has occurred in my life since I have met him. All of our problems have not disappeared however right now we are focused on some of the bigger things occurring and our children. Our children need us to give them some of our time and energy.
I know I will prevail and I am so appreciative of the few of you that have known and been there to love and support me and for those that are just now finding out I pray that you will offer your love and support and will understand if I am just not able to physically keep up with the physical demands that most of you are able to operate at with ease on a daily bases. I will always do my best and try at being better at asking for help when I need it. I love you all, thank you for taking this journey with me. You all are my motivation.
Man marriage is hard work!! Why couldn’t someone tell us how hard this was going to be, or the work it was going to take. I never thought that even after 16 years we could still have so many struggles.
I never knew that becoming a mother would change me so much and that I would lose so much of myself. How many mothers out there know exactly what I am talking about? You forget who you are, maybe even your purpose. The person you were before kids came along and everything you have, every ounce of energy you have goes to them.
Most marriages have a hard time surviving tragedy, heartbreak, grief, loss, and the many other things that life can throw your way. Couples shutdown, stop communicating, grow apart, lean on someone else, and turn away from the one person they should be turning to. I think this is one of the biggest reason Brian and I have been able to succeed to this point. The things that tear most couples apart bring us closers together. Brian is who I look for in times of tragedy and heartache. When something happens and I want to shrink back the only thing I want to do is close out the world and surround myself with Brian and my kids. Brian has been by my side through the hardest thing I have gone through to date, the death of my mom 10 years ago. We then had to go through the death of both of his parents. We have lost a baby, aunts, grandparents, cousins, and friends. Through it all we draw closers together, drawing strength from each other.
Since losing my leg I have become a completely different woman. If you think having kids changes you, try cutting off one of your limbs, that really messes with your mind. I am no longer an active participant in my own life. I pretty much just exist and watch life happen around me periodically jumping in to take part in an activity or event usually involving my children. I am stuck and this feels almost impossible for me so I just can’t imagine how helpless Brian feels. However, he is so supportive, he listens, he is affectionate, he doesn’t push or pressure me and more than that he doesn’t make me feel bad for how I am feeling. Neither of us are perfect but our life experiences have given us a little hand up.
I believe the key is to never give up. Love is a choice. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. You always hear statements such as “I’m not in love anymore” or “they don’t do it for me anymore.” Commitment is about choosing to love even when our spouses are doing things that aren’t so lovable. Choosing to love even when all we want to do is run. You can “fall” in and out of love a million times in the course of a relationship, but loving someone, the true foundation of love goes way deeper than the flighting feeling of being “in love.”
We make it work by never giving up. Never succumbing to the pressure and feelings that leaving would be easier. We aren’t perfect, most days are a struggle and believe me the struggle is real.
One day though we will look back and we will see the beautiful legacy we created because: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10:9 ESV