Today I looked mortality dead straight in the eye. And we battled it out. I now knew with certainty that I wasn’t going to live forever. My carefree, invincible spirit flew out the window never to be seen from again. And on top of that, there was a chance that life, as I knew it and imagined it, would be cut short prematurely.
Death? Afterlife? Heaven? Hell? Earth? Worms? Eternal sleep? Rainbows and puppy dogs? Not being alive anymore? What?!
All I knew was that I wasn’t ready to die, at least not anytime soon. I still had things to check-off my list. But, after that phone call from my doctor as I lay suffering in muted pain, I knew that I couldn’t pretend anymore. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew I had to accept the inevitable. I wasn’t going to live forever.
Let me back up a bit. I’m getting a little carried away with this whole mortality bit. You’ll learn early on that I tend to have a flair for the dramatic during pivotal moments such as these. My favorite line you’ll hear me quote, “It’s just like in Grey’s Anatomy when…” TV show/movie attributions give me reason to live. See, I told you I was dramatic.
Yesterday, I went in to see my rheumatologist, Dr. Solsky, aka “Mother Hen” because of some very bad joint pain and muscle weakness that had been getting progressively worse since January. What started off as a general feeling of fatigue that, regardless of increased amounts of sleep, would not go away turned into painful joint stiffness/pain/swelling and muscle weakness. I had absolutely no energy to do much else than get through the workday, go home and sleep. I had to take the stairs in my apartment one at a time, sideways. Getting dressed in the morning took the effort of an army. Even driving was painful. I got exhausted walking from the parking garage to my office. Every step was an effort. My hands were swollen and even typing hurt. I was losing weight without even trying. Dr. Solsky said at my last visit 9 months ago, I weighed 135 lbs, which is healthy for my 5’9” frame. This morning I weighed in at 117. I force myself to eat even though I don’t have much of an appetite these days because I’m afraid I’m going to turn sideways and disappear!
I had relegated all my symptoms to the stress I had been dealing at work with impending project deadlines for the past few months. Little had I known, I was having a flare. At the end of March I came down with the flu that had me bed-ridden for 6 days with a consistent fever, bad cough and fatigue that developed into non-infectious pneumonia. I did notice that when I was sick, my joint pain/muscle weakness lessened. But, when the sickness went away, the inflammation came back with a vengeance.
I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and that is when I made an appointment with Dr. Solsky for yesterday. She called today to tell me that the results of my blood work came back. It looks like on top of the scleroderma and mixed connective tissue overlap I had previously been diagnosed with in 2005, I have also developed lupus and myositis. New symptoms I have developed are hypothyroidism and anemia.
Thus, begins my journey.
So, mortality. I guess no one, except vampires, lives forever.