Busy little beaver me has allowed a major even in my life to breeze by without so much as a word on the blog.
Last Monday, January 11th, after over a year of wondering, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Finally I know what is wrong with me. Finally, a little clarity.
Perhaps it's fitting and even a little kind of fate to have the onset of this disease and its diagnosis happen in two Januaries a year apart. It allows me to reflect on my struggles with it in a somewhat easier manner, compartmentalizing 2009 as a year of ups and downs.
Think about it. The Steelers win their 6th Super Bowl, the Penguins return for a Stanley Cup rematch and walk away the victors in a season I began with them across an ocean. I finished my Master's degree despite turmoil and near depression. My mom got a job, a good job, and I moved home to Pittsburgh--much desired and deserved! I traveled to Denmark and Las Vegas (several times) and met the man of my dreams who also landed me in London and all new territories when it comes to partners and companionship.
But, the counter to these great things was heavy and at times nearly unbearable. They say you aren't handed more than you can handle. I say, define handle.
I suffered pain I'd never know with little rest or reprieve. I couldn't sleep through the night and was terrified for an entire semester that there was no possible way I could pass my comprehensive exams in that condition. I had my palms injected so that my fingers would work so I could type my answers for my comps questions and my final papers. I did not miss a single day of teaching, and only one class, and that was not because of pain, but due to the effects of taking vicodin for the first time, which did not ease my aching in the least. Many days I could not tie my shoes, turn the ignition in my car, or get myself ready in the morning. I had good days, but all these seemed to do was undermine my position as those people who saw me said, she's not really sick.
Through all of this, the most painful thing has been knowing that there are people--even people close to me--who simply do not understand. They think I am weak, the pain's not really that bad. They think I am pity seeking, who wouldn't take advantage? They think I'm a liar, what could be that bad? It hurt so much and really, always will.
But I am grateful. Very grateful. Because I know what it's like now. And you cannot unless you've been there. You can't know what it feels like to miss your friend's goodbye party or go to bed at 10 when you're on vacation, or be embarrassed to try and open a water bottle in front of people you don't know very well until you've been there. I always thought I understood. Watching my dad with rheumatoid all my life. Seeing his struggle. I thought I was pretty empathetic, that I got it more than most.
No, no I didn't. But I do now. And I will forever have that perspective that is, to me, invaluable. I'll take all the good I can get.