Like my favorite childhood game, Chutes and Ladders, I find myself on a spiraling chute. Unlike the game, I do not have any clear idea of how many spaces I am falling behind.
And I am falling behind. Far.
Ever since I stopped rock-climbing, I feel like I am on a never-ending slide. It’s too slippery for me to grab the sides and stop myself from falling.
The upsetting part is that I did not stop rock-climbing because the RA made me physically unable. I stopped because of insensitive people’s perceptions of the RA.
In a previous post I talked about what a co-worker told me. That I burdened everyone with my RA and nobody wanted to hang out or rock-climb with me.
I feel alienated at work, I have no desire to hang out with anyone and I am just sad.
Rock-climbing was the last thing that made me trully happy. It freed and strengthened my mind, it made me feel good about myself, and it made me feel in control. It was one of those things that was a part of me.
I am used to giving things up, I have been ever since I was diagnosed: possibly my career, full-time jobs, biking, bouldering and now I have to pick and choose what I do during the day because I can no longer do it all.
This feels different than before. Maybe it’s because it was the last thing that made me happy, and now it’s gone. Maybe it’s the reason why I had to give it up. Maybe I am finally coming to terms with what having this disease really means.
Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.
I’m so sorry!! This past summer, I went against my doctors recommendation and tried swimming for the first time since my diagnosis of spinal arthritis (over 4 years ago). The first time was like a miracle, the second great, and the third – well, I over did it. And after two months of excruciating, completely intolerable pain – I had a nervous breakdown. For a while, I really thought I might just need another back surgery. Scary stuff!!
Swimming made me feel ecstatic, you called it the “honeymoon faze” (You are so smart! And great with words!! Totally summed up how I feel). It is very sad that I can’t ever swim again. Many years ago, I was a life-guard. So, I never really swam “leisurely”. I prefer racing from one end of the pool to the other.
What you are going through is so tough- and most people do not get it – they just have no clue!! What I can say, is try and remember everything you still can do and enjoy. Food, doing nails, your pets (they are super cute), etc. .
Right now, my back is improving every day and I no longer fear surgery (which makes it easier to count my blessings, or practice gratitude, or whatever you want to call it). But there are lots of “nevers” in my life. Never swim, never skate, etc. etc. I’m trying to focus on the positives.
I also relate to job difficulties – I too am making career changes because of my medical condition. Maybe a career counselor could help you? It sucks to not be able to do what I set out to do … but in my case, I’m hoping this is the way I will get to do what I actually always wanted to do (long story for another time). Anyhow, I will end this with try and find the silver lining, educate others knowing they will never really get it, and hope and pray for medical miracles like better treatments for arthritis!!
Thank you for the wonderful comment. It made me smile 🙂
I agree with you on every point and I actually have a couple of blog posts I am working on about the newest treatment I’ve started and the difficulties of having to change careers!
I know I am very lucky that I am still physically able to climb. I know it comes down to who I climb with. I know I could have it worse and my RA hasn’t affected me as severely as it could but sometimes I find it so hard to have gone from 100% healthy to my current condition. I guess I haven’t found a good way to cope yet.
I am very happy to hear that you won’t need surgery! That’s fantastic news! It’s definitely a slow healing process but all we can ask for is that the healing is going in the right direction.
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