This is Invisible Illness Week and I thought I’d talk a bit about my invisible illnesses. Invisible Illness Week was created to bring awareness to those who suffer from chronic illnesses that sometimes don’t seem like illnesses. I’ve got Rheumatoid Arthritis and struggle with occassional depression. I had a bout with something that is the first symptom of multiple sclerosis just 10 years ago, but I’ve had a 10 year follow up this week with the doctor and we think it was a perfect storm that created that symptom and it had nothing to do with MS and the symptom ultimately went away.
Rheumatoid Arthritis means that my immune system is overactive and it has attacked my joints, causing swelling and pain. It does limit some of my movements and causes a great deal of fatigue, but I really try hard to push thru life with a smile and not let it get to me. I am mostly successful but it’s not without struggle somedays and it’s a very careful balancing act. Mondays I inject a low dose chemo drug called Methotrexate, Thursdays I take the biological response modifier Enbrel, and each day I take 100mg of Celebrex, some folic acid, a large dose of vitamins and then I need occassional Vicodin to help me get thru my day. Exercise and movement are so important and on the days that I feel my worst are the days that I really need to put on the sneakers when I get home and walk the dog or ride the exercise bike.
I’ve always struggled with weight – since being a little girl. Having RA and depression certainly work against me by limiting movement and energy and the medications can contribute to weight gain. Anti depressants can put weight on, although I only take 1/2 a celexa each day. Getting back to the gym and doing more cardio should help keep the RA in check, and of course losing weight keeps the stress off the joints.
If you are aware of anyone that has a chronic, invisible illness, they might look healthy and fine, but that’s not always the case. We struggle to get out of bed in the morning and get on with our day. Be patient and understanding because we don’t want to be treated special, but we are not like everyone. We have our unique issues that require a very delicate balance each and every day.