stress and RA

Familiar Lessons

My mother’s death day anniversary was at the beginning of August. She passed away when I was 12 and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. But, around her anniversary I delve deeper into our relationship and think about all the things she taught me.

Mum's many lessons

Her biggest lesson was how to take care of myself in ways of friends, family, home and work. By the time I was twelve I could balance the books and care for a home. Did she start teaching me all these things when she was first diagnosed with cancer or did she just think these were important life lessons at my age?

Mami was strict. By the time I was seven I laundered my own clothes…sort of. (We had a top load dryer and I was too short to transfer them from the washer…still am, for that matter.) I ironed my uniforms by age eight. I had chores even though I didn’t have an allowance. It was just implied I help with the housework. My favorite activity was vacuuming (it still is). I made my bed, fluffed the pillows and made sure everything was tidy.

I thank her every day for instilling a life-long ambition for order and standards. However, there is one thought that continually looms over my head. While I can attribute my entire being to this woman I have no idea how she would handle my autoimmune condition. Mum had Lupus. Well, “Lupus-like syndrome”. As any Spoonie knows our chronic illnesses never quite fit perfectly into their descriptions. Her autoimmune presented like Lupus but not really. When I came along she quit work and devoted herself to full time mother.

To me, she did everything.

I never remember her showing pain or complaining. To me, she did everything. She woke up at 4 am (now I know to eat, medicate and just “thaw” before I woke up). She cleaned the house, cooked the meals, drove me to and from school and overall just did EVERYTHING. Occasionally she would “cat nap” where she sat on the sofa and closed her eyes for ten minutes. She said ‘don’t bother me for a few minutes’. Those were her times to recharge.

Mami was on a high steroid dose and took DMARDs, plus probably way more medications I don’t know about. She pushed herself every day to be the best mother so I always wonder what advice she would give me now. She was a strong, independent woman who taught me to be my best. Would she say ‘pick yourself up by the boot straps and just get it done’ (like she normally would) or would she be sympathetic to the pain and disability and say ‘try your hardest’? Would she just say ‘limits, slimits!’? I honestly can’t see her saying ‘poor you, you’re not as capable as you were before.” She wasn’t that person. There was never any reason for her (or me) to be less than 100%.

Life would be different if she were still here.

Life in general would be a lot different if she was alive and it’s weird to think about how. Would I be married by now? Would I be a veterinarian? Would I still like near my parents? Would I still have pets? Of course, though, my biggest question is would I even have Rheumatoid Arthritis? I’ve always internalized my feelings since well, my mother died. Many of us can agree stress plays an important role in our condition. If I had learned how to handle my emotions properly would I even have this disease?

What lessons have your parents taught you? Let me know in the comments!

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