#HAWMC day 27: quotable

I love a good quote. The right one can turn one’s day completely around. It can make you feel strong in the face of a bad day or completely turn your attitude around.

One of my most well-read posts was one where I wrote about the “Litany Against Fear.” It’s one of my favourite posts, so here it is again, for your reading pleasure:

Fear is a funny thing.

Since I am, truth be told, a big nerd, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear or see or write the word fear is a passage from Frank Herbert‘s “Dune.” If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know the one I’m referring to:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

I won’t lie: Fear is a big part of my life with chronic illness. A lot of what I’m dealing with is unknown: How will I react to [insert medication here]? Will it help me, do nothing, hurt me, or some combination of the three? Is how I’m feeling right now my new normal? Will I ever go into remission? For how long? Will I get worse? Will there be better treatments or, dare I say it, a cure in my lifetime?

The answer to all of those things: I don’t know. And, to be honest, that really bothered me for a long time; in some ways, it probably always will. But nothing is guaranteed for anyone. No one can say for certainty what the next year, next month or even next minute will look like.

But for all of that, I don’t think fear is necessarily a bad thing; without fear, there would be no opportunities for courage. Chronic illness, like fear, need not take away our hopes, loves, dreams.We can be brave and still chase down what we want. Sure, it might look a bit different than we’d hoped, but we can get there. And that realisation—that I can still expect great things from myself—that was huge. Giant, even. And so very precious.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
—Nelson Mandela

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An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

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This latest flare of mine has definitely taken a turn for the worse. Everything hurts, even joints that don’t normally trouble me: both shoulders, the top and bottom part of my spine (but not the centre), hips, knees, my left wrist. I feel a bit like the  Tin Man, from the Wizard of Oz; if only all I needed to keep from being rusty was a bit of oil.

I guess this means the triple therapy my rheumatologist suggested at our last meeting isn’t working. I’m not really sure what my options are now; I’ve tried a lot of different things already to various degrees of success. I guess that’s why I see my rheumatologist, to have a partner in finding the best treatment for me right now.

I tend to do best on biologics, even if they don’t push me completely into remission. I’m not too keen on trying Simponi—one of the few I haven’t been on—because of the side effects; maybe because it’s usually more effective for people with psoriatic arthritis, like me, its potential side effects are particularly devastating. But I guess I’ll hold onto my concerns and see what my rheumatologist has to say. I have an appointment next month, but I hope she can see me sooner; I’m not so sure I’ll make it to my appointment in one piece.

Still, I’m trying to look on the bright side. I had to leave work early today, but at least I got a short nap in. All of this pain and exhaustion is forcing me to slow down, which means I get to spend more time with the Professor. That’s always a good thing.

So, I wait and see, and try to keep my spirits up. At the moment, that’s enough.