By: Sue Anganes
My life has revolved around caring for my six kids for the last thirty-two years. My youngest is now sixteen. In a certain sense, I should have realized this a long time ago, but I am just now figuring out that I need to take care of myself. I don’t mean getting my nails done or refurbishing my wardrobe—that would all be fine, but I mean taking care of my health.
I have always been relatively healthy and never needed any daily prescriptions for medical issues; but recently, I started falling apart. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t do any type of physical activity without exhaustion afterward. The breaking point was a few months ago when I had a horrible flare-up of pain in my hands, wrists, and elbows. It came on overnight; and by morning, it was obvious something was not right. I couldn’t brush my hair, type, open a doorknob, open my car door, grab my steering wheel, or pick up my grandson. It even hurt too much to push an elevator button with my index finger. I couldn’t sleep because even if I moved a little, the pain would wake me up.
After a week of suffering, my husband FINALLY convinced me to see my doctor. My doctor did some labs and then sent me to a rheumatologist. More detailed labs were ordered, and I had x-rays and an MRI done. It was determined that I had arthritis. From the looks of it, I probably had it for a long time. The doctor put me on a medication, and guess what, I feel FANTASTIC! I really feel so much better. After being on the medication for about six weeks, I have tackled painting some bedrooms and painting a family room and hallway. I’ve started walking again and was able to do some spring raking. I still have some pain, but it is nothing like what it was to begin with. I feel like I have my life back. I have so much more energy now that I’m not trying to physically drag myself out of my chair.
Why did it take me so long to see a doctor and get myself help? This was an issue for me for a long time before the horrible flare-up. I think that I have been so busy taking care of my home and family that I kept putting my own important needs to the side. I also felt guilty admitting that I had pain, since, as I have mentioned before, my two youngest sons deal with a rare disease that causes them to be in pain every day, and I have a daughter who has had arthritis since she was seven years old. I didn’t think that I had the right to complain. Foolishly, I also thought that if I didn’t acknowledge that there was something wrong, that it would go away. Silly? Yes! I should have addressed the problem long ago.
The past few weeks, I have felt better than I have in years. I am enjoying my walks outdoors, and I’m so very thankful for taking care of myself for once and feeling better.