Last updated: October 2023
As I finish my prerequisites and slowly work towards my veterinary school applications, I am constantly bombarded by the fact that my chronic illness might be the main reason why I won’t go to vet school.
My dream of going to veterinary school
I still remember when I was first diagnosed. I was a veterinary technician, I worked at a rock-climbing gym, and I was teaching in an elementary school. I still dreamed of being a veterinarian, but I was hindered by my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis. Could I be a vet? Could I get through vet school? How could I when I needed a full physical ability?
But, I lucked out with an amazing rheumatologist who treated my autoimmune disease aggressively from the beginning. Kept very close tabs on my progressions and made it so I would never permanently use a wheelchair.
Every decision I make is influenced by my RA
Since then, I moved to a new state; a state, unfortunately, where healthcare is a joke and it seems doctors only care about their bottom line. Because of my first rheumatologist, my condition is still well managed, but it’s not the best it could be.
Every morning I remember I have rheumatoid arthritis. Every decision I make is clouded by this autoimmune and I am constantly reminded of it with every movement.
A constant lose-lose situation
RA is permanent.
I mean, I never thought I would hit remission. That was obvious from the get-go... but I honestly thought I would be at a point where it wasn’t always in my consciousness (yes, a naïve notion).
And the most frustrating part about all of this is that it’s a constant lose-lose situation. I eat junk food, I swell up, I feel lethargic, I feel off; I eat well, I swell up, I feel lethargic, I feel off. I drink water, I cut out the sugar, I exercise, and none of it makes a difference.
And what about all the extra stuff (not necessarily “comorbidities,” per se) that comes along with the joint pain? I constantly drink water, try to keep my mouth wet, and try not to let sugar or acid sit on my teeth — yet I continuously have cavities, have fillings pop out, and I even lose teeth.
Persistent issues with my sinuses and eyes
I vacuum my room, I change my pillow cases every 3 days, I brush my pets — yet I still get sinus infections that require antibiotics or trips to the ER.
What about the almost manic eye drop application, wearing sunglasses even when I am indoors, and rarely wearing contacts? I still have issues with my eyes and could get cataracts.
And what about the very obsessive sunscreen application, avoiding the sun, and only going out at certain times of the day? Yet my skin still suffers, and I get sun sickness and burn.
RA is permanent
It's all the time and will forever be... permanent. Even if I never need to use a wheelchair, and if I maintain my independence, RA is permanent.
Usually, I am pretty optimistic, as I have noted in many previous articles. This chronic illness has led to SO many good things. But, as I am working on my graduate school applications, I guess I feel slightly disheartened because the RA monster dictates where I can apply, and it’s SO frustrating!
Have you felt disheartened about your chronic illness recently? What was your trigger? Let me know in the comments!
Have you struggled to afford your RA medications?