My Pain-in-the-Ass Buddy is always, and I do mean ALWAYS, with me. It never goes away; I am shackled to it. There are times I forget it is with me, sometimes days, sometimes just hours. My Pain-in-the-Ass Buddy (PB for short) is sometimes very quiet, but at any given time can scream like a banshee just to remind me that "Hello, I haven't gone anywhere." For the past 6 years, probably more, PB has been a part of my life and there are times we have a God-awful relationship. In the past it has demanded so much of me that I could hardly concentrate on anything else. I wouldn't wish my PB on anyone. Being the selfish bastard it is, it has been known to suck the pleasure of living from me and make me question my existence.
But over the years, PB and I have come to some sort of truce, an understanding, if you will. Despite our adversarial relationship, PB has actually given me some gifts, unintentional, I am sure, but gifts still the same. A few of these include:
The gift of savoring the good times, the times that PB is quiet and at rest.
The gift of watching a husband, who had no understanding and no idea of how to handle having my PB insert itself into my marriage, making him a part of this never-ending dance, grow into the type of caring and loving mate he had the potential to be all along. Without PB, he would have never walked this path with me and learned so much.
The gift of discovering that I can live with my PB and actually fundamentally change the way I live.
The gift of waking up to the reality that if I didn't make those lifestyle changes, PB, with my acquiescence, was pushing me toward a much earlier grave. Because of this reality, despite the demands of my PB, I joined Weight Watchers, started exercising, lost 90 pounds, changed my attitude, as well as my appearance. I am not going easy, should PB have the final victory.
The gift of new experiences, new wisdom, new goals. The gift of gratitude - even for something that can be so debilitating. Or simple, like being able to walk, playing with my Fab 5 grands, a million little things that add up to a fulfilling, satisfied life.
By now, those of you who know and love me, realize I am speaking of my Rheumatoid Arthritis.
From the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS): "Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It occurs when the immune system, which normally defends the body from invading organisms, turns its attack against the membrane lining the joints.
Scientists estimate that about 1.3 million people, or about 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population, have rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, children and young adults also develop it. Like some other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease."
So there you have it. RA is my Pain-in-the-Ass Buddy. It does not define me, but it has changed me. It presents challenges, that is for sure. But I figure it is how I meet those challenges that matter. And in the end, when all is said and done, it can be said of me, "Pam loved life and those around her. She made people laugh and feel good, and oh, by the way (as a side-note), did you know she had RA?"
Now go do something besides read BLOGS! My PB and I are going to go play!