Being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness is all about transition. It entails shattered assumptions about what you believed your life was supposed to be moving forward. It entails a shift in thinking, not to a bad place, but to a new place. Making the shift may take some time, but anything worth having is worth putting in a little elbow grease and dealing with the learning curve.
I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease as a kid so I’ve always known that there was something different about me physically than others. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was a secondary diagnosis about seven years later. I was part of a campus organization that raised money for kids charities. One of the events we held was a 24 hour dance marathon. I was participating in the dance marathon and noticed that as the marathon progressed my feet were in more and more pain. It wasn’t the type of pain that comes with your shoes being too tight, or just from being on them a long time. It was a sharp and focused pain. I finished the marathon and took to bed for a couple of days thinking it would resolve itself; it did not resolve itself.
This began my consultation with doctors and each doctor would give me a different explanation. I remember the day that rheumatologist said that I was one of 3% of psoriasis patients that get something called “psoriatic arthritis”. I went on a course of anti-inflamatory medication and it helped, but I still woke up every morning with pain. In addition to the pain, I was also taking a new set of medications and had to watch for the side-effects that accompanied the new medications. It was a shift for me because I now had more than one health challenge to keep tabs on and they were impacted by each other.
There was a day of surrender when I said to myself that “This is my life…now”. I would always be at risk of being incapacitated by pain and the possibility of being unable to walk. I would always have a new specialist in my life. I would always be walking the tightrope balancing the triggers of both diagnoses. If I took it as a bad thing I’d be giving myself the license to be miserable forever. Understanding that “This is my life…now” was freeing. It allowed me to explore new treatments both traditional and complementary. Once I embraced the statement, “This is my life…now” I felt more in control of my life and my illness.
How will you make this statement part of your life? What steps do you need to take to embrace this paradigm shift?