Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Have you ever done something that you regretted? I’m not talking about eating a second cookie or wishing you had done more to prepare for a Monday. I’m talking about life changing choices that in hindsight you wish you could have redone or not done. I have been better about not examining to closely to regrets. As a trusted confidant once told me, regret is poison to the now. You don’t gain anything by regretting in the present. Besides, if you learn a valuable life lesson, you have made the best of a situation that you found to be difficult.

While I believe and mostly subscribe to that advice, there are times when I can’t help but be remiss about something. Have you ever awoken and just felt that cloud? You know the one. It feels like something is holding you back but, you realistically know that there is nothing but, your mind holding you hostage? I woke up that way today. I had had a dream about a friend of mine that I do not keep in touch with. I am sharing this so that I hope that others with autoimmune issues, understand that they are not alone.
Before I was diagnosed with PsA, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). It took about two years before I was diagnosed. Although I saw about a 50 lb weight gain in about a year. PCOS didn’t change my life in quite the same way that PsA did. I still was able to do all the things I wanted to without a physical restriction. I had a friend “X” that I had met while we were both in grad school. We did hiking trails, went to dinners, drank like fish and lived to tell the tale! In all, we had a great time and were living life.
In February 2014, I was diagnosed with PsA and was put on plaquenil or in other words, the spawn of Satan in pill form. I was so sick that it caused me to not keep food down for close to two months. I lost about 35-40 lbs. But, plaquenil was not going to be a long term solution for my medical treatment. At this point, I was put on subcutaneous methotrexate. This was fundamentally the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I had to inject myself weekly, with an auto injector. It was awful. I cried for about three hours prior to doing my treatments. I would lose about two days, every week, due to my crying and the side effects. It was not a pleasant time in my life.
As the weeks continued to pass, I was getting better about my injections and no longer crying as much. I had the support of my family, friends and physicians. But, anyone that has taken metho knows, it alters your life. In addition to the debilitation of my disease, metho curbed my social life and very obviously my relationships with my friends. X had family with a similar autoimmune disease, so she was not ignorant to my plight. However, when I couldn’t attend her destination wedding, I felt the relationship slipping. I had had a flare and I was feeling awful. I sent gifts and congratulated as soon as she arrived home. I wanted to go but, it was impossible with my flare.
It wasn’t until she came home and had a wedding reception that I knew our relationship had hit a roadblock. She had invited me to her local reception hosted by her brother and sister-in-law. I attended but, little did I know that I was the only friend to attend the only family event. I was ignored and was not introduced to anyone in her family. Her mother came up to me and asked who I was. Shortly after meeting her mother, I left. I was there about an hour. I cried all the way home. I received a thank you card about a month later and nothing more.
I understood that she was busy at her reception and I didn’t expect to be babysat. However, a short introduction would have been so helpful; I knew not one person there. She had made a passive comment, when she returned home from the wedding, about how I did not attend the destination wedding. I felt so bad about not being there for her on such an important day but, it was physically impossible.
This diagnosis meant that I was no longer the same person that I was when we met. I was this person battling a disease that consumed great energy, time and money. My acquirement of this disease was not intentional but, it is a part of my life. I had to bid farewell to a friendship that I enjoyed and was sad to see end. But, we had outgrown each other. She was married and on her way to the domestic bliss that she had always longed for. I was single and looking for a life’s purpose. I let go.
Last night, I dreamed of X. I dreamed that she was in trouble and I reached out to help someone that was a brick wall. I woke up before we connected. Maybe I miss her. Perhaps, I need to examine my contributions to the ending of our friendship. Likely, it was just a nice remembrance of a life that I haven’t lived in almost four years. I don’t know why I have PsA or why it had to alter my life in such dramatic and intense ways. However, I know that regretting I have PsA is not an option. While this disease has shut the door on so much for me, it has also given me some beautiful and amazing things. I am an activist for health rights, a voice for autoimmune issues and connected with amazing and inspirational people that I otherwise wouldn’t know.
I am grateful to have this moment. I no longer dwell on things I cannot change. It is my mission to make every person’s life, that I encounter, a little better. To my friend X, I wish you a beautiful, successful journey. I often think of you and wish it could have turned out different. I am thankful for the time we shared. Finally, good luck to all those friendships that have been changed, for better or for worse, because of autoimmune diseases.
Lots of health and love.
~A