Abstemious: adj. \ab-STEE-mee-uhs\
1. Sparing in eating and drinking; temperate; abstinent.
2. Sparingly used or consumed; used with temperance or moderation.
3. Marked by or spent in abstinence.
Having psoriatic arthritis is a study in refraining. Though I often try to concentrate on everything I can do rather than what I can’t, to be upbeat and make the people around me feel good about my having a chronic, incurable illness, part of being a health advocate means sometimes I have to make it crystal clear what having two lifelong conditions is like.
And, sometimes, it’s marked with things I can’t do, with things from which I must abstain.
Take alcohol, for instance. I am on methotrexate, that wonderfully toxic drug that somehow lets me function more like a normal human being. But it brings with it the potential for liver damage. Since I like my liver and I’d like it to continue working, I have to cut out other things that have the potential to harm it. This is where me abstaining from alcohol comes in. This is harder than I thought it would be. Even though my parents, say, and my in-laws know I can’t drink—and know why—they all still insist on offering me glasses of wine or cosmopolitans. And, yes, I’ll admit that now and then I indulge. But for the most part, it’s not worth it.
Then there are days when I want to abstain from everything. Days my meds aren’t working the way they should and days when I’d love to hit pause on my life and just sleep until I felt better. But in all honesty, I take methotrexate and many other pills so that I don’t have to abstain from doing most of the things I love. And that makes giving up the few things I do have to let go that much easier, in the long run.