It's sort of funny just how badly I want to freeze this moment in time - I haven't even written down Sami's birth story yet and somehow here I am wanting to document my experiences today.
I had an appointment with my Rheumatologist for the first time in a few years. We exhausted most possibilities a few years ago and then things went into a sort of remission just before and during my pregnancy - so I felt great for a little bit! It was awesome! The other pregnancy pains paled in comparison to the lack of my "normal" pain so it was an enjoyable time for me.
It's been almost 9 years since I first started showing symptoms of health issues and what I can only estimate are hundreds of disappointing doctor visits has conditioned me to have a lot of fear and anxiety just going to the office. Today was no different - lots of nerves leading up to today and during the drive to the office and waiting to be called back.
What I got was 45 minutes of uninterrupted attention, review of all the tests I've undergone over the years and a thorough physical exam from a Doctor I have worked with the most all these years and who I've grown to respect a lot. Today she was finally able to say that I definitely have a kind of inflammatory arthritis and she is fairly certain it is seronegative rheumatoid arthritis - we are doing tests to rule other things out and seek a confirmation of this. In the mean time, she can put me on some daily meds that will take a few months to kick in but will ultimately and hopefully work to relieve some pain.
Now, no one is stoked to have an auto-immune disease. But receiving this validation - that I'm not crazy, this pain is real, and that my body is really a warrior is UNBELIEVABLY SATISFYING.
Since this is an "invisible illness" and I look pretty healthy and I don't like to show signs of illness (err....weakness....) to the outside world - I've received many a side eye, cold shoulder, and judgmental nod over the years. This girl can't really be as sick as she says... But now? There are a few EFF YOU letters I'd love to send out...
But the biggest one of those is to myself. I wish that I could judge MYSELF less harshly, that I could really just give myself a break. I've learned a lot about self-care because I've had to but I still fail miserably at just being nice to ME. I needn't have doubted myself so throughly when questioned or worried unnecessarily when I needed to cancel plans to take care of my health.
My relief today is all-consuming. Something really is wrong, there is medicine and a course of treatment specifically for my condition (previously it's been a lot of shots in the dark with heavy-hitting meds just for pain management - so frustrating) and I just feel this freedom. Like now, because there is a name to this beast - I am allowed to say I'm in pain. I'm allowed to say out loud to you that today walking is hard, picking up my daughter is hard, and trying to stand from sitting is hard. That I want to go lay in bed so badly but I also know that my body needs to move somewhat to heal. I AM ALLOWED TO SAY ALL OF THOSE THINGS.
And really, I was before also - but I allowed myself and others to shut that down instead of standing firm in what I knew to be true.
More than anything - today's events have given me stronger roots.
I will not be moved.
(Please tell me you are reading Brene Brown's Braving the Wilderness so that you too, can not be moved!!!)