In my first therapy session post-diagnosis (yes, I am in therapy, people. I live in New York-you get one when you sign a lease here), I remember talking to my therapist about how, now that I was 'sick,' I was going to meditate and practice some kind of yoga every day, start drinking alcohol more moderately (I wasn't kidding myself into thinking I'd become a saint and give it up completely unless I really had to), eat only good-for-me foods and suddenly have some kind of grand epiphany and become the lovely, ideal version of me I'd always wanted to be.
If my life were a movie, this would be the part where a great song from the 80's began to play over a fabulous montage sequence showing me, in a fit of self-improvement ala Bridget Jones, smugly throwing away bottles of booze, cigarettes and ice-cream from my apartment. This would be followed by alternating scenes of me buying a slew of 'Why I Love the New, Virtuous Me' self-help books and working out at the gym, becoming slimmer and slimmer (and therefore happier) and magically transitioning into a new, ultra-healthy version of myself who always makes decisions that support my health and whom everyone adores.
Yeah right. My life is soooo not a movie. I gained 15 pounds after my diagnosis (which is the topic of a forthcoming post), and though I've had plenty of hard core reality-checking moments followed by some smarter-decision-making moments since the onset of my RA, I have not managed to transform myself into a virtuous version of yours truly who does everything right and to the benefit of my health at all times.
Case in point: Last night, I meant to only go out for a drink with two of my friends before seeing a show, then go home and get a good night's sleep. I was even going to tidy up my apartment a bit before going to bed. Instead, I went out for drinks pre-show (champagne, of course), followed by more drinks afterward, along with some fries dipped in aioli (alright, mayo), and then that turned into a late night drink at our favorite lounge, followed by more drinks and a second wind here. I took a cab home, which I can't really afford to do, spent way too much money and crawled into bed at 3am.
Sometimes I feel guilty and like a total RA-loser for this (even though it really was tons of fun). Obviously, this was a very excessive evening (Mom, I promise most nights are not). It is also only afforded to me now because my meds are working and allowing me to feel like my pre-RA self, because back in December, I would have been dead on my feet by 7pm and burst into tears of true misery if you told me I'd be up until dawn.
When I woke up this morning (without a headache, I'll have you know), I felt remorseful and started to lecture myself about how I should be more responsible and respectful of my health (and of my liver, specifically). Truth is, though, rheumatoid arthritis or not, I'm human, and 29, and want to be able to go out and be a little excessive and go where the night takes me without feeling bad about it. After all, isn't that why I live in New York City?
Besides, tomorrow, I'm going to drink nothing but purified water, eat bran and organic, locally-grown, green leafy vegetables while practicing yoga and meditation for many hours and have a grand epiphany about the meaning of my diagnosis and everything else in my life.
Or maybe I'll just shoot for something in between.