Saturday, December 5, 2015

Forgiving Myself

      I stayed home from school yesterday, and I felt terrible about it. I volunteered as a babysitter for a community event on Thursday night for three hours, and by the time it was over I was completely exhausted. I love kids and really enjoy learning from and working with them, but I was worn out and could feel my body giving up on me rather rapidly. Still, when they wanted to sit on the floor and solve puzzles I wanted to participate, and when they wanted to color I picked up crayons and scribbled with slightly swollen PIP (finger) joints. Of course, I am not always in this amount of pain, and I am a competent childcare worker, but I was not pacing myself very effectively. By the end of the night, I was terribly fatigued and was keenly aware of how slowly I was moving. Several people encouraged me to take the day off on Friday. I was resistant to this idea at first, but finally surrendered.

     I am trying to be healthier. For me, a big part of being healthier is taking time off when I need to, and staying home before my body goes completely crazy instead of letting things get really bad and then reluctantly staging a medical intervention for myself. Of course, taking time off/staying home is also a very frustrating experience. Yesterday morning, I laid in my bed for a little while, staring at the light blue walls in my room. I absolutely adore my bedroom, and the way the sun streams through my curtains is lovely. I wanted to get up and be productive, but my knees were locked and my chest felt heavy. I contented myself with thinking instead of working and fell back asleep.

     I genuinely love school. My classes fascinate me, and my teachers are incredible. I am taking as many courses as I possibly can this year. Unfortunately, my body cannot always keep up with this pace. Yesterday I was making pancakes, which has become a sick-day tradition for me, and as I was staring at the air bubbles in each pancake gently popping all I could concentrate on was how guilty I felt about missing school. People tell me that it is not a burden, but I know that it is. It will take my teachers time and effort to work out a schedule for my make up work, and I am a day behind now.

My adorable mother and I at the Jingle
Bell Walk/Run for Arthritis this morning.
    Because I stayed home from school, I was able to fulfill my role as a co-director of my school's a cappella group yesterday afternoon (though I was a little out of it), and this morning I volunteered for the Arthritis Foundation in my local Jingle Bell Walk/Run for Arthritis. My responsibilities included handing out information on arthritis, pain, and medications, as well as asking participants to sign a petition to Congress in favor of a bill that will hopefully address the severe shortage of pediatric rheumatologists in the United States. In these situations, I remember why rest is so important. To be good at anything, I have the energy to start and finish it. Forcing myself not to miss a single class period is not being a responsible student, it is being a stubborn human being. It is denying both the existence and severity of my arthritis, which is unnecessary and is harmful to me both physically and psychologically.

    I am learning how to forgive myself. I am learning how to look at my flaring joints and tell myself that it is okay for me to acknowledge that I am ill sometimes. It is okay that some days I just can't do it. Of course, it is horribly not okay at the same time. It is not okay that anyone should have to experience pain so intensely and frequently that their body starts to feel like it is collapsing on them. But just for today, it is alright with me, and just for today, I am forgiven.

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