What would you give for something you want?
I have had friends telling me how ‘sad’ my life is despite having all my needs and wants met. I have capable parents, siblings who turned out well, a passion like dance, a ‘career’ like teaching, and money to buy what i want. I am truly happy as i am right now. Is it even plausible to be happy if you had a chronic disease?
I don’t know which i’d rather have- going undiagnosed, or get diagnosed and undergo treatment. I had never fathomed in my life that i’d lead a live like that- chronic pain, daily medications, monthly blood tests, side effects to cope with, physical limitations, financial woes and a real diagnosis that gives people a chance to judge me differently from the rest. Honestly, i’d do anything to liberate myself from the arms of RA, even though i have mentioned before that RA is now a huge part of my identity.
At age 16, you are not supposed to worry about a diagnosis and take daily medications just to feel normal. At age 18, you are not supposed to worry about how you are going to pay for your medical fees and bills, and waiting to turn 21 and start working just so that your are fully legal and autonomous. At age 19, you are not supposed to start fretting about how your liver is already getting battered and scarred from the hepatotoxic medications. At age 20, you are not supposed to go about worrying you may be unemployable just because your diagnosis may be of a liability to your future employer.
All these while, you constantly battle with yourself because your passion may just be a dream after all, and that you cannot pursue it for the rest of your life. You wrestle your physical being because although you are young and youthful like the rest of your peers, you are different. You cannot do the things that once seemed easy. Yet you try to appear stoic and refuse pain medications. Because pain medications can only do so much, and you have to worry about how your liver, kidneys and stomach are going to last through the next 3/4 of your life with medications.
And… At this age, you worry about losing hair to the medications. You await blood test results and hope with all your might that your liver is fine. You try to be a good patient- one who’s empowered and compliant. You try to please people- your doctor and your nurse. You talk to people about your condition because you want people to accept and understand you. You want people to know that RA is not a disease for old people; that people as young as you, or even younger, can get afflicted. You worry if you have to rely on mobility aids and replace joints in future. Lastly, you pray and hope that with everything, you ultimately emerge as the winner. That although you cannot beat it, you can tame it and grow as a person.
So… Would you rather? Would you rather a comfortable life like mine afflicted with a chronic disease? Or would you rather be perfectly healthy, yet lead a less than ideal life?