Happy Birthday to my Rheumatoid Arthritis:
It's been three years since you showed up unexpectedly in my toe, all full of yourself (and me, I might add). I didn't exactly invite you in, nonetheless, you made yourself right at home in the majority of my joints. Hell, you even introduced me to some I didn't know I had!
Of course, you were rather coy at first, not telling me your name, or how long you intended to stay. All I knew was that I'd never felt quite like this before in my whole life - all 28 years of it! Before you, I would cavort around all night long with reckless abandon, wearing three-inch heels and closing down the party. Before you, I practiced yoga as if all my joints would work properly for the rest of my life, or at least into middle age, doing absurd things like standing on my head and my hands. Before you, I expended energy like I had it to waste, throwing it around carelessly on anything and everything, or sometimes nothing at all.
In fact, before I met you, I thought doctor appointments were something you only had to endure once a year. How little I knew of the medical world back then. I took insurance plans for granted, like they grew on trees and had nothing to do with gainful employment. I hadn't yet had the pleasure of getting my body scanned, smushed, prodded and pricked by total strangers. Isn't it hard to believe that back then, I only took pills on an elective basis?
But since you walked into my life, all that has changed. I now understand so many things I didn't before. You've been very instructive, educating me on the endless dimensions and levels of pain so that we are on an intimate basis. I am now a whiz at taking pills and sticking needles into my thighs. Thanks to you, I have firsthand knowledge of what it's like to be so tired you wish you could sleep for the next 20 years, or maybe 40. You have shown me the apparent folly in things like high heels, small buttons and screwtop caps. You have even taught me the value of being able to clean and dress one's self as an adult; the beauty of independence in the form of mundane tasks like washing dishes and carrying groceries; the courage of getting out of bed in the morning when one's entire body refuses to behave or function rationally.
I have learned all these and many more lessons since you arrived in my life. But perhaps most importantly, I have learned that, though you may reside in the very cells and inner linings of my body, you are not me. You don't even come close.
So, in celebration of this third anniversary of having you in my body and my life, I have bought a pair of ridiculously obscene high heels that defy logic, gravity and yes, even you.
Happy F***** Birthday, RA.