Friday, November 18, 2011

A Changing Life

I didn't take a close up of the ladies, but this is the college pool.
 In Januay we will move to a new HEATED therapy pool!
When I finally got the nerve up to start this blog, I was going through a lot of life changes like getting older, my children growing up, and just generally not feeling well.  I wasn't sure if it was in my mind or if there was really something wrong. Now I finally have an answer.  I have hesitated to blog about it, not wanting to complain, but it is changing my life and  is part of what I deal with now.  I knew I hurt more than I should and after ten months and lots of blood work, I now have the "official" diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  While I was working through all of that, I learned that I also had early signs of macular degeneration and osteoarthritis.  Recently my eyes have gotten worse due to dry eye causing corneal abrasions (probably a side attraction of the Rheumatoid arthritis). Thankfully this is improving quickly with treatment but my vision was compromised significantly for a while and really caused some frustration.

All in all, it's been a lot to take in at once...crippling arthritis and loss of vision! I find that I go through the adjustment pretty quickly...first, disbelief, then tears and grief (usually over in about thirty minutes), and then resignation.  The only thing is, I know I have been a little more quiet and pensive to those around me....not always responsive when I should be. I've tried not to feel sorry for myself and most of the time am successful, but it does get a little overwhelming at times.

I often remind myself how these conditions are treatable.  However, it has and will significantly change my life.  The rest of my journey is going to be much different than I ever envisioned.  I have always been in control and independent.  The bigger the challenge the better.  Now, big challenges are just too big. Things have gradually changed.  I am now really glad when I don't have to drive so much (teenagers are coming in handy!).  I no longer work myself to death getting something finished.  I'm in bed much earlier at night. I have to pace myself.  For the most part, I've been able to keep doing everything I've wanted to, do but with a little more difficulty.  Take the garden project...that would have been tackled completely two years ago.  I think though...this more methodical way might be better. The things I love to do like sewing, needlework, playing piano at church, gardening, backpacking and hiking may become harder and at some point, even impossible.

I'm learning to take better care of myself.  I am watching my diet, taking preventive steps, and investigating all the treatment options available.  I started water aerobics back in the spring (at the college) and have met the nicest bunch of ladies there.  We meet three nights a week (I go as much as possible, but some weeks don't make it at all!).  They are the sweetest people full of nothing but kindness.  Exercise is a little iffy other than that...but I have hopes to work on some core strengthening. 

The most wonderful thing about this whole year has been that I've slowed down.  I'm taking things in, pacing myself and just enjoying each and every moment.  I've noticed that now I don't procrastinate as much and even though I don't feel like I'm working as hard, it seems like more is getting accomplished. I'm really feeling good about moving forward. 

For the next few months, I'll have more appointments, more adjustments, more acceptance....but best of all, more chances to soak in this beautiful, wonderful life. It has been a hard year.  I've lost special people in my life and had some unpleasant health news....but I've also developed closer friendships, I've met new friends, stretched my faith, learned to accomplish things slowly and to savor every moment. 

No...life isn't the same anymore...but these changes seem to be bringing as much good into my life as not...maybe even more.

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