Lists for Living With Arthritis: A New Perspective
A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called Lists for Living. In it, I talked about a close friend who, upon finding she had a terminal illness, refused the vast variety of experimental medical programs that the doctors offered (and added that "they MIGHT help").
She chose not to let them make her body into a human guinea pig, so she went home and talked to her adult children and they decided to live in the present and do all of those things they always had wanted to do but just "never had the time." They were living with "someday," but we all know that never happens.
They made the list, and gradually accomplished all of those things before she died. Ironically, this seems almost a copy of the film "The Bucket List," but I wrote it before we had even heard of the movie! My friends and many of my readers made lists and started doing them. The best part of the list is you can add to it, or delete things because it's YOUR list and your life.
The pinnacle of my list was to work as a volunteer in Africa. I accomplished that last summer when I volunteered for 3 months in Tanzania in a very poor area and worked in a correction facility for teens, most of whom had been street kids! It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and the most incredibly wonderful and rewarding.
Because I'm presently incapacitated with a broken leg, I've had plenty of time to think about a variety of "things,"not always a good idea. My list seems to be shifting. I don't know if I'm becoming senile, or just very wise. I have completed many of my goals and finally faced the fact that at the "ancient age" of 65, I realistically will never get down to a size 10, or wear a bikini! Of course, my rationalization is, that with 2 stainless steel hips, I could lose a thousand pounds, and my hip size will never change. Besides, with all of my surgical scars from joint replacement surgeries, the world is probably better off with my keeping covered!
No, I haven't stopped traveling, but I've had to re-evaluate some of my dreams due to my balance problems with osteoarthritis (some of my friends claim I've always been "off-balance!!"). I had originally hoped to travel in all 7 continents before I die; however, I made it to only 5 before I fell in love with Africa, and tend to keep going back! I wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail for years, but realize that is not practical for me to try. I have a scheduled trip to go to British Columbia. I've never been there and the pictures I've seen are glorious. I also have some photography customers there so I could use part of the trip as a business expense! I'm sure I may "need" to return to Africa, although the plane ride is exhausting (over 30 hours)! In addition to the trips, I have many people begging me to write a series of books with my photography included on my travels (I LOVE to write and it doesn't involve my balance at all!!!)
Yes, I DO get frustrated because of my arthritis. Most of the time I'm pain-free, but at times the joint pain is unbearable. I've had 5 surgeries so far and realize that's not the last. I honestly have a tough time dealing with some of the challenges. Then I try to remind myself that there are others with far worse problems, so I shift my gears, I don't stop my hopes and dreams, but am realistic enough to try to re-shape them and alter them as needed.
I REFUSE TO LET ARTHRITIS TAKE CONTROL OF MY LIFE. I HAVE A DISEASE, NOT A