kmericks
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    • kmericks

      I agree that staying positive is essential to life with an autoimmune disease (or any other chronic condition for that matter), but I also think it’s important that people feel they have space to feel sad about it too. Most days, I find ways to do anything I set my mind to and I get applauded for being so positive (my pediatric rheumatologist keeps asking me to visit with families of newly diagnosed kids to give them some reassurance that their child will still grow up happy because she says I was always one of her most positive-minded patients), but some days I allow myself to cry and feel sorry for myself because it still sucks. I am thankful for RA because it has shaped who am I, how I treat people, and even my career, but I still would never wish it on another person. So for as much good as it does to stay positive and look at it from a “what I can do” perspective instead of focusing on the limitations, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that someone should’t take the space they feel they need to share their struggles, especially so early after a diagnosis. It’s all part of the process, right?

    • kmericks

      I was diagnosed at just over a year old (I had started to walk and then went back to crawling and my parents got worried) and I am in my 20s now. It always amazes me to hear other people’s experiences with this disease because they can be so different but so similar at the same time. I am very vocal about my limits and I will always be the one to make jokes about it before anyone else has the chance because that is how I cope, but I have talked to many other people who would rather keep the details to themselves or only share with a select few. Yet this essay, along with most of the comments and other things floating around the internet, so clearly speaks of the shared parts of the disease that nobody seems to care about. The medication side effects, the constant infections and illnesses, the unpredictability, the aversion to any food that I’ve paired with methotrexate, the constant explanations about why what helped someone’s grandmother probably won’t help me, the carousel of fad diets and superfoods that claim to reverse joint damage or cure RA. There is so much to be gained from sharing our stories with others who are fighting the same battles, if only to give us an outlet to talk of the disease without explaining the disease all over again. Thank you for sharing your story and giving legitimacy to a disease that is so often only thought of, not to mention shrugged off, as an inevitable condition of aging bodies.

    • kmericks

      Some of your favorite classes will be ones you never knew existed. After scheduling in the required courses, try an open search for anything that fits into your open time slots. You could end up loving that ‘theology in modern film’ or ‘adapted physical activities’ class. **Also, don’t buy your textbooks until after you’ve attended the first class and confirmed which ones are absolutely required. You’ll save yourself money and the headache of bookstore lineups on the first two days.