Love Letter to Myself...
You just turned 28 at the beginning of the year. You’re almost 30 years old, almost three decades old. When you were in college you never imagined your life after 25, except you were done with vet school and living in Australia or New Zealand. You were happy, successful and enjoying every opportunity.
Did those things happen? No. Not even close.
Instead, you were diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis/Rheumatoid Disease at 21 and have lived with it for seven years. You work part-time because you cannot keep up with full-time work, you are in physical therapy because your body is weakened from pain and fatigue and you live at home with your father and your four pets. On the other side, your peers and classmates are finishing graduate school, getting married, settling down, having children and starting their career.
Yes, you should have been one of them. You should have been one of them three years ago but, you’re not. Sorry.
It’s OKAY. You can’t control your illness and its physical restraints. It's not a great situation but it's OKAY.
Your dream, your career
You want to finish vet school, receive your DVM. That dream hasn’t died. Why should it even if your path is a little different than you imagined. Don’t think you can physically finish your graduate degree? Cross that bridge when you get there. Don’t worry about that now and just focus on you, your health and your current goals.
Don't be hard on yourself just because your peers are finishing med or law school, starting residencies or internships. Why? Because education will always be there. As long as you have your brain, you can complete your degree at any age, during any walk of life and with any degree of physical disability.
You don’t know how your Rheumatoid Arthritis will affect you in the future so it’s OKAY to enjoy your life while you still have your mobility.
It’s OKAY you are not in a relationship. A relationship means you need to like people more than you do and remember, you never wanted to get married anyways.
It’s OKAY that you’re not working full-time. Isn’t that the dream, eventually? To not work long, hard hours? Sure, you love work, you like going somewhere for a long period of time. But, it’s fine. You’re doing the most you can.
You may not have achieved your goals yet but you done a fantastic job with the hand you were dealt. You are a great teacher and an even better vet tech. Your three eldest pets are healthy, happy and full of spirit, which is hard to say about any pet nearing 17, 15 and 13 years of age.
**To everyone who judges you, thinks poorly of you, or writes you off: Imagine living every single second of every day in pain. Some days are so painful you can’t walk but sorry, you still have to work, care for your family and live. Even when your RA symptoms are controlled you still fight horrible fatigue where you can’t think straight or you have to take a break after walking just five feet (sometimes less). Imagine still trudging on because sorry, you can’t call in sick from your life.
Monica, I know you don’t think it but guess what? You’re a superhero.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?