I had the opportunity to chitchat at length this morning with a certain older gentleman as he waited in my lobby to speak with another employee. He talked of how hard this year had been for him, as he had lost his lady friend to Rheumatoid Arthritis. It had spread to her heart and lungs.
Granted, she was an elderly woman, but still it stuck with me and also made me remember the mother of an online friend I once was close to. She had also succumbed to RA, but died when she was still young, in her thirties or forties. Right around my age.
Death really freaks me out. I don’t want to die, now, or later, or ever, actually.
I can’t think of dying for any length of time or I’ll send myself straight into a panic attack. My throat tightens, my heart races, my head hurts, I feel nauseous and dizzy. If I get caught up in that sort of thought stream, I usually try to get myself to focus on other things, and will put something funny on TV or find someone to talk to about something completely different.
I want to talk honestly now, though, about what it means to me to have this stupid disease.
Usually, it’s just a painful inconvenience that I deal with to some greater or lesser extent every day. I don’t really think about what the future may hold twenty years down the road. Craig and I have both assumed that at some point, I will probably have more limited mobility, but it never really occurs to me to think that the RA could at some point end my life.
Thinking about it now, doesn’t even seem real. It feels at once very personal, and yet impersonal at the same time, as though I’m watching it all from the outside. It really scares me, and yet, I just can’t believe that it could happen to me. I want to cry, I want to scream, I want to curl up in a ball under some soft blankets and just sob.
I don’t want to give up.
I don’t want to give up because I also want to laugh, I want to love, and I want to live. I want to dance and I want to sing. I want to spend quiet times with those I love and I want to be boisterously, obnoxiously happy. Every day.
I will fight. I will not go gentle into that good night. I will kick and scream every step of the way.
I will take my meds. I will eat healthy, and I will exercise, even when it’s a struggle or a temptation to do otherwise. I will treat my body, my vehicle on this earthly plane, as the temple it truly is. I will be good to myself.
I will not give up.