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Friday, January 15, 2016

It's a new year, but only the numbers change

This is an entry from my own personal journal that I wrote on January 1 of this year, so please indulge me.

So, it's that new year, new you craic time of year, but I've never really been one for resolutions, high faluting ideas that will never materialise or daft false promises.

It's a new year, there is one different digit at the end of the date, but otherwise, it' s the same as yesterday and I'm sure tomorrow won't be drastically different either.

2015 wasn't a great one for me health-
wise, so I'm hoping that 2016 will be an improvement. 2014 was when my health decided to throw itself down a steep cliff and the clamber back up has been gradual, depressing and trying, with little light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, let's be honest.

In a proactive move, I took six months (planned and scheduled) off work and returned to my little office in The Avondhu in September, but alas it was not to be and I had another really bad flare up on November 8 and I'm still off work with it and I am in almost constant pain.

Now, I'm seriously assessing my health and taking a good long look at what 2016 might hold and how I can erect a good strong barrier to protect myself from plunging into the black hole off the side of this terrifying and crippling cliff.

Arthritis is, in many ways, an invisible disease and it's hard for people to get their heads around it, because to the naked and untrained eye, I seem fine, if a little incapacitated.

I'm a very upbeat and chirpy person and I do try not to let this horrible, potentially soul-crushing disease get to me, but like everyone, I have my moments, I have my hours and sometimes I even have my days and weeks.

To an ignorant stranger, I am a young, successful, career driven, happy and healthy woman.

To the people in my inner circle, I am a 28-year-old with a debilitating disease, which poisons many facets of my life.

On a good day, it's like the blight of arthritis isn't in my life - I can walk, run or jog if I feel like it, carry things, write endless articles and run around working overtime to get events covered and keep the public informed.

Unlike many arthritis sufferers, I do not have a base line of steroids or pain killers (I usually only take panadol for a headache), but I do inject myself once a week with two disease modification drugs and I have a medicine cabinet that would put some pharmacies to shame.

Then, when I flare up, simple little things liks putting on socks, lifting a mug of tea or turning the pages of a book, all seem like insurmountable hurdles.

Some days, the pain is so bad that I can't do anything but writhe in agony, lie in a heap and let the tears roll.

Other days, I will have an epsom salt bath (if I can get in and out of it) or a foot spa, I'll go to the pool, jacuzzi and steam room and maybe do a foot spa or do ten minutes of Tai Chi, all in an effort to reduce the agony.

I'm a whinger by my very nature, but I do not, as a rule, complain or whinge about my health, because I don't think it's fair to lump my burden on others.

Psoriatic arthritis, as I've explained before, is the best of the arthritis' believe it or not, but it's still a bitch and it's not quite as innocent or baby faced as it would have you believe.

As a coping mechanism, I am more chatty, smiley and funnier when the pain is at its worst, because the alternative is simply too grim.

I refuse to be defined by my disease.

I refuse to let arthritis become me, because it is a monster that would consume me if I allowed it to. And so, I stifle it, I smother it, I break it down one morsel at a time and some day, I hope to look down at it in a dishevelled heap in that black hole down the side of my cliff to be able to say;
"I won,
I beat you,
I am Sandra,
I am not Sandra, the journalist who was no more because of her arthritis."

This was intended as an uplifting piece, but it didn't quite pan out that way.

Anyway, I hope you can take some kernel of comfort, solace or wisdom from these furious scribbles and please remember that you never know what's going on inside someone's mind or life.

Their demons may not be visible, but their battle is all too real.