|At a Diamond Head lookout, reppin' the Green Wave.|
I was doing pretty well for the first little stretch, which mainly involves weaving through rocky, inclined pathways and remembering to slow down and enjoy the view every once in awhile. I was on the move and excited about it. I felt pain in my knees but trudged on, thinking that if I paused or took a break it would only worsen the pain. Our steady pace invigorated me, and it isn't a long climb (only .8 miles up), so I was prematurely feeling on top of the
Unfortunately, my joints were not similarly enthused about the trip. I made it up the first set of stairs but was in an immense amount of pain. I have been trying all day to think of a way to describe it. The pain is not sharp, but by no means is it dull. It is mentally overwhelming and makes me want to self-amputate my legs, but it is also eerily familiar.
|This sea turtle wasn't part of the hike, but it was|
pretty cute so I thought it deserved a spot here.
As I looked out over Honolulu, for the first time in a long time, I felt truly and unreservedly proud of myself.
These moments of pride and self-worth have been much harder to come by since I was diagnosed with arthritis. Even opening a peanut butter jar feels like way more than I can handle sometimes, so I do not exactly applaud myself for making it up the stairs or walking to class by myself. I'm not advocating for this style of thinking or attitude towards self-value, but I often feel as though anything I do decently is cancelled out by all of the help I need. Of course I make good grades in calculus, I once thought after someone complimented a test grade of mine, otherwise what would I be here for? I needed help walking to first period and I'm a difficult student for my teachers. I'm not great at being a cheerleader for myself, and although this will not come as a surprise to most people who know me, it is never exactly something I have been open about, and it is also never something that I have felt any of my healthy friends have understood.
In a way, constantly beating myself up is just another mountain I am trying to climb. This past week has included joint pain, middle-of-the-night sickness, and 3 a.m. phone calls with nurses. It has included shots and inhalers and Hawaiian-style pharmacies. All of these things have certainly felt like mountains. While I am proud of myself for sticking with the hike even when it got hard and for accomplishing my goal despite my knee and hip pain, realistically I know that the literal mountains are the least important ones. I would rather be a wonderful friend or caring student or empathic listener than reach a physical summit. Nevertheless, reaching the top of the actual, literal mountain was a monumental accomplishment for me and a timely reminder that I always have been and always will be stronger than juvenile arthritis.
There are and will be many other mountains, but they don't make the one I conquered on Saturday any less significant. My name is Rachel, I have arthritis, and I climb mountains.