I am a photographer . . . . . a photographer who seems to spend a lot of time at the doctor’s office recently. I like to capture images that show the beauty of God’s creation, but at times I like the abstract, too. I took this photo while sitting in one of those waiting rooms. Looking at this image made me think how much Rheumatoid Disease has changed my life.
As with most people diagnosed with Rheumatoid, I have two lives – the one where I “used to” do everything I wanted to do and the one now, with a whole list of new realities and limitations. I admit there are times I long to have that previous “used to” life once again.
This photo immediately reminds me how alone you feel in a waiting room. Every time I find myself sitting in a waiting room I realize this disease is mine and mine alone and with that you come to understand that while you may have support from others, the full impact is yours alone. When the lab tech cannot find a vein, it is my arm throbbing. When a joint is manipulated abruptly, it is me that aches for the remainder of the day. When a medication is discussed or given, I have to deal with the side effects. When I do too much, I feel the impact with pain and stiffness. The fears, those are mine alone. Oh, and a dramatically changed life, that’s all mine, too.
There is also a harsh reality you feel sitting in a waiting room. You can no longer deny the disease, the symptoms, the diagnostics or the treatments. I admit sometimes I imagine in my mind that I don’t feel as bad as I think or that perhaps I can really do those things I used to do. However, there is no pretending in the waiting room. You are there for a purpose and that purpose is a disease that will be your partner for the remainder of your life.
Through all the feelings of being singled-out and alone, this disease has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned how to be less than perfect and perfection has long been a quality high on my list. I have learned to change my expectations of myself as my abilities have changed. I have learned to research on my own and try to find explanations and answers about this disease. I have a greater understanding and compassion for others who suffer with health issues.
While I have always been in love with nature and the beauty of God’s creation, I have found that I have a more keen sense of appreciation of the beauty and uniqueness of things around me. The activities I do get to experience are more precious and appreciated.
The next time you sit in a lonely, cold waiting room I hope you will think about what you have learned from this disease and how it can change your life for the better. And, also remember that you are not alone, we are in this journey together.