This month has been one of the hardest months of my life. It has definitely been an emotional roller coaster. I have spent the last four weeks dwelling on all the many things rheumatoid arthritis has taken from me. This year I feared that rheumatoid arthritis was going to take away something that means the world to me and my family. This year I feared rheumatoid arthritis was going to steal Christmas away from my family, away from my kids. And all I could think about was the look on my boys face when they woke up on Christmas morning only to see that there were no presents for them under the tree, and when they realized that this year Santa had not come for them.
Dismissing the important things
Sometimes I think my six-year-old is such a wise old soul. I have spent the last month dismissing everything he had been saying to me. He spent all month telling me that if you really believe something with all your heart, then wonderful things would happen. He also would say that Christmas was not about getting, it was about giving. I think he saw all along all the things I had been missing.
At the end of November my husband had to leave his job in the HVAC field and return to his old job as an MWD in the oil field. It was not a decision that was made easily, but one that had to be made. But due to the extremely high price of taking care of me, such as doctor visits and medications, we could no longer afford food, utilities, and the price of taking care of me all at once while he was working at his current job. We had expected his first check on December 15th, just in time for Christmas, but due to an error in paperwork we were told that we would instead get paid around the 1st of January.
My mom bought my boys some winter clothes to help out. She even gave us a twelve pound turkey, which I quickly learned dries out quite fast if not sealed tightly enough. My dad gave us some hamburger helper, cereal, and some fruit. But the rest of the time we spent living off cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My oldest son had to use his birthday money to buy him and my youngest son lunches at school and cupcakes to bring for his classmates for his birthday. Times were hard and seemed to get harder with everyday that passed. My husband had to use the last of our money to make the long drive from Oklahoma up to North Dakota for his first job back in the oil field. And with no paycheck, it surely meant no Christmas for our boys. We couldn't even afford one present for our kids. All I could do was cry, and just when I though I couldn't even cry anymore I cried even harder.
It WAS all my fault!
I was angry, so very sad, and extremely depressed. Just when I thought I was dealing well with the fact that rheumatoid arthritis had taken so much from me, such as my mobility, my career, my future plans, and at times my joy, I am reminded that there is still so much more that it can take from me. I was so upset; after all, it WAS my fault. If I didn't have rheumatoid arthritis my husband wouldn't have had to take a job out of town in the oil field. And if he didn't have to take this job we would still have had a paycheck. And if he had a paycheck we will still be able to have a Christmas. It is one thing for rheumatoid arthritis to take things from me, but to take something away from my kids was unacceptable. All I could do was cry and curse RA.
I believe in miracles!
It's funny how things happen. It always seems that just when you stop believing in miracles, a miracle happens. I called Toys for Tots, and while at first they said that they didn't have enough toys for all the families this year, I later got an email that said that I could come and pick up toys for my boys. My husband was able to finish his job in time to make it home on the 17th of December just in time for my oldest son's birthday. He even gets to stay for Christmas. My mother and father-in-law flew down at the last minute and paid for us to follow them up to Nebraska and spend some time with our family in Grand Island. They even got to spend the night with us. And my mom and dad were able to buy some toys for us to give our boys from Santa Clause. It has definitely been a Christmas miracle. And once again I am reminded that rheumatoid arthritis can only take from us what we let it.
My husband kept telling me through all of this, that the only thing that we needed was each other and our family. He was right! And I wish I would have paid more attention to my six-year-old when he said that all I have to do is believe with all my heart and wonderful things would happen. He was right, and I do believe this will be the best Christmas ever!
A wise six-year-old once told me that Christmas is not what you give, it's what you give. So when I look at my Christmas tree and see the many used toys that he has wrapped in notebook paper to give to all his loved ones, I believe that he is right. So this year I will give all my love to all my friends and loved ones. And I give all my love and joy to my fellow rheumatoid arthritis sufferer who feels that RA has taken everything, including their joy away from them. Today I am sending you lover, great memories, and joy your way in hopes that you too will have the best Christmas ever. After all, it only matters that we have each other...and we do! We are all connect by this disease, and by the fact that we all must fight to believe in our heart that wonderful things can still happen for us, and they can! Merry Christmas, good luck, and best wishes!
Published On: December 24, 2009