When I was first diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis I had already been living with pain for almost two years. Initially I kept telling myself the searing pain in my foot was from an injury I had when I landed badly on my foot two years earlier.
I couldn’t tell you why I was in denial. My mother has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was young so it stands to reason that my pain would also be arthritis.
I hurt so bad that most days I couldn’t get out of bed until noon or later.
I was becoming depressed.
I laid in bed gently trying to stretch my feet out so I could put weight on them and stand up. I hated what I had become.
This sequence of events isn’t unique to people facing chronic pain. This is the same sequence of events that faces people with financial troubles, marital problems, job problems and more. It’s very normal to become depressed when we face very difficult challenges.
For me, I knew deep down that I could not live my life like this. Then came one moment. One instant flash of time in which I made a decision that would change my life.
I accepted responsibility for my disease management.
That doesn’t mean that I accepted that having arthritis was my fault. What it means is that I accepted that whether I liked it or not the arthritis was not going away and only I could do what was necessary to fight it. My friends and family could help me all the wanted. But the decision to responsibly fight this disease was all up to me.
The decision came without pomp and circumstance. There were no fireworks. No marching band. No parade. Once I made the decision, my feet still hurt. The pain still shot jolts of fire into my brain.
Yet I stopped digging the hole and for the first time in two years, looked up and knew I would climb out.
It was an empowering, comforting and reassuring moment for me. It was the first time in two years that I felt some level of confidence and peace in my life.
We must all take responsibility for our own care. No one is going to just show up one day, snap their fingers, and bingo, you’re better. It just doesn’t work out that way.
What we can do is rebuild our dignity by standing up and accepting that it is our own responsibility to find a solution to whatever our situation is. Only then can we wake up every morning prepared to win.
In the #FindYourWin segment tonight I want to give a shout out to my friend Barb from the UK (@RASucks on Twitter). On March 13 she posted a blog about the anxiety we all seem to face when self-injecting medications. She bravely took an idea I’d previously mentioned and video taped an injection for all to see. (Note: It’s safe for all eyes).
Check out her PSA butt kicking blog right here: http://www.walkinginmyshadow.blogspot.com/2012_03_01_archive.html
Want to be mentioned in the Find Your Win Blog? Simply post your win on Twitter and tag it with #FindYourWin. We’ll select submission to mention here.