Small supplies of the H1N1 flu vaccine have finally arrived in Dallas and last night at water aerobics our instructor asked who in the class was planning on getting vaccinated. It was a small class, but I was a bit surprised when I was the only one who raised a hand.
After class, in the locker room, one of the other ladies in the class asked me if I worked in the health care industry. For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine where she had come to that conclusion, so I asked her. She said that because I indicated I would be getting the swine flu shot, that she thought I might be in the medical field.
“No,” I told her, “I have rheumatoid arthritis and one of the drugs I take suppresses my immune system and so I’m at risk.”
Just like that. Right out loud I told a relative stranger some of my most private medical facts.
Earlier this month, I wrote about our invisible disease and what it means when it becomes visible to others through our use of assistive devices. I’m finding out that, like a lot of things, the real stuffing is in the middle.
I’m in that place where no one would guess that I have RA. I’m still “invisible”. But while I’m aways yet (I hope) from becoming “visible”, I am at least becoming vocal. Giving voice to this new part of my life is helping me start getting part way out of the closet of denial. Most days it’s easy for me to ignore the fact that I have RA. Sure, I have aches and pains and fatigue, but when you’re over 40, nearly everyone does.
But because it’s easy for me to deny the disease, it’s also easy for me to deny the things I should be doing to take better care of myself. By including RA in my everyday life, including it in conversation, I find I have given myself permission to do the things I need to do — take a rest, take some Tylenol, exercise and stretch, ask for help.
So here I am in the middle — between denial and being visible — where the good stuff is.
I hope your life brings you good stuff, too.
Thanks for checking in.