I find I have difficulty sometimes pulling together my thoughts about a subject I want to write about – I now realize there is a reason for what is happening. It turns out there are things doctors didn’t tell me when I was diagnosed in 1970 – whether they knew them or not. They didn’t say I would have brain fog, having trouble remembering things I heard 2 seconds ago. I thought I was slowly losing my ability to remember and would go downhill as I continued to get older. Maybe that is why my husband thinks there something wrong with me because I don’t her what he just said. Though he tends to say in another room with the water running or the tv is on. Probably a bit of both. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on things, upsetting when someone tells me their name and I promptly forget it. So how much is the illness and how much are due to meds? Meds are a subject by themselves – I’ll save that for another post.
There is the classic one of going into another room and forgetting why I went there, sometimes going back to where I thought of it helps. As I am older, people tend to say it’s a Senior moment”. I choose tot see it differently as a result of comment someone made a few years back. I was talking to her and suddenly couldn’t remember what I was going to say – she said it was a “giraffe moment”. I thought, okay – by why a giraffe? She explained that she people think a giraffe has the brain the size of a gold fish. When you throw something on the ground for the giraffe to eat, she goes down for it. But halfway down, she forgets and lifts her head – therefore, not getting anything to eat.
Now I know giraffe are smart and that long neck can be lethal, so in some ways it’s an insult to giraffe. But I would rather have a giraffe moment than a senior moment – yes, I know it is 6 of one and half a dozen of another. A senior moment sounds as if I am getting old and feeble – no way is that true. I decided to make a button for myself to wear on my coat:
I asked a friend to create a giraffe for me. I had seen one for a movie, but it had such a crazy expression – I asked her to put a sweet expression on the face and make the tail a question mark. The button is round and it I put “RELAX, it’s a giraffe moment”. I also put my name and number on the back and my website on the front – a bit of fun and some shameless self promotion.
After reading some articles on themighty.com, I realized the things I had been thinking and experiencing were not weird, merely par for the course. The articles have also helped me to understand some of things as a result of the Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis that no one tells you. One is grief – for the loss of the life I thought I would have had; the continuing physical limitations, not being able to do things with my husband. The guilt for having a chronic illness and feeling I am a burden to him. All the places I could have gone with him and could’t, the constant pain, not being able to tell him something specific he can do to make progress and difference. For not knowing what to do for myself – how can I feel what he can do when I don’t know what I need?
I feel guilt for all the worry he has about me, wondering if I have fallen and hurt myself while he wasn’t here. Unfortunately that has happened more than once. Feeling so awkward and clumsy rather than feeling graceful and moving with ease. I know I have been cranky and bitchy at times, not feeling as if I am not a nice person to be around. This man I married has been with me since the beginning – diagnosed a year and half we were married. He did not leave me but has been so supportive and loving to me. Some spouses leave because they didn’t sign up for it – none of us with the chronic illness remembers signing up either.
Depression is a whole other subject. I realize it is a symptom of RA, snow I wonder what the difference is between symptom depression and “depression depression”. I may not be able to describe it very well, but how different is symptom depression from the depression as a result of dealing with all this? Many times I have felt as if I can’t deal with any more, I want my life without pain back.
It took by surprise, I was having shoulder pain shortly after we came back to the States from Australia. Suddenly the doctor told me I had RA. I had no idea what it was and it took a while to sink in. I wonder if it was more a decade or so before I “got it”. Or did I? I don’t really know. I know I have seen my body as an adversary for a long time – only recently have I begun to see her as my partner. I realize how much I have been able to experience because of my physical body. This is new because I tended to think of her as a hindrance and obstacle to doing things I wanted to do. I have begun to shift my thought patterns to more positive ones – still it doesn’t mean I don’t get angry or upset about the whole situation. I am still working on understanding how Acceptance really feels – that “I know that I know” knowing deep inside.
Most people read all they can about what their illness is and all about it. I have read some but I wasn’t really ready to do that. I didn’t want to know what “could” happen and scare myself. I decided to take it as it came and deal with one thing at a time. I also didn’t know I had a choice to deal with or not deal with it. I knew I had to do something, so I sought treatment. Not the easiest path but not doing anything is even worse.