The Telltale Chronic Illness - Is My Time Running Out?

I’m running out of time. Or, at least, that’s what it always feels like.

Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and chronic illness, in general, is always feeling like you are racing against the clock, like some bonkers bicycle race that never ends and somehow you can still lose.

Unfortunately, that clock is becoming more and more intrusive these days.

Am I running out of time?

Lately, more and more, I have this overwhelming feeling that I’m going to run out of time to do anything worthwhile.

Whether it’s a project for that day, a longer-term endeavor, or life in general, it doesn’t matter – it always feels like I’ve got a ticking clock stalking me like some screwed-up chronic illness version of "The Telltale Heart".

Tick tock. Tick TOCK. TICK TOCK. What changed?

Pain and fatigue steal a lot of our time

If we’re being honest, when you live with RA and chronic illness, time is always a precious commodity. Fatigue steals a lot of it, with the motivation drain and extra sleep needed.

And if you are lucky enough to wake up on a good day when fatigue decided to take a sabbatical, then his good buddy pain usually steps in to take up the slack. Pain makes you move slower and you get less done; so, again, time sinks.

After thirty-plus years of dealing with these 2, you’d think I’d be used to beating the clock – and I was, more or less. But recently, I’ve been having issues with my ticker... and I think that’s what’s at the... heart of the issue (see what I did there?).

A time crunch to do what is important to me

I guess it stands to reason that a co-morbidity as serious as heart issues would amp things up to 11, but it’s only been recent that I’ve really felt the crunch.

I feel like I won’t be able to be as successful as I want to be as a writer and content creator before I’m too old for anyone to care.

I feel like I won’t be able to find anyone to be with before I’m so old that we can’t kiss without our dentures falling out.

I feel like I will never get to bring to fruition the many ideas I still have – good ideas, like a sash that goes around bathroom trash cans that also holds the bag in and makes it look pretty. I call it the Trash Sash (patent pending, you vultures).

Aging with serious health issues

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m approaching that all-important age of 49. You know, the age when the world stops caring what you think at all (according to advertisers, that is).

Every survey, questionnaire, and poll always wants you in that sweet 18 to 49-year-old range. And if you are, then great! We want to hear what you think!

Once you cross that threshold though, oh boy. Apparently, on the day of your fiftieth birthday, you instantly don’t matter to anyone in the world who does.

This, combined with the fact that my health issues are probably going to cause me serious medical problems again at some point in my life is making me question, for the first time, if I’ll be able to accomplish all the wonderous and world-changing things I have still planned. (The Trash Sash may not be world-altering, but it will make your bathroom really pop.)

I have to keep moving forward every day

So, what do I do now? Well, I feel like I just have to keep on doing what I’ve always done. Keep plugging on and moving forward every day just like I would have 10 or 20 years ago.

And when that ticking clock starts to get really loud, I remind myself that there are tons of people out there who did great things later in life and had chronic illness, to boot.

Errr, I can’t think of anyone offhand right now, but they exist - probably - and one day, I’m going to be one of them with my own Wikipedia page and everything, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

It’s getting more and more difficult to stave off the doubts, but I am still able to pull myself up by my bootstraps when needed.

RA affects us in many, random ways

Chronic illness and rheumatoid arthritis especially are awful and unique in the fact that they take parts of you away bit by bit, piece by piece. Cancer, injury, infection, those come on fast and do their damage, but RA?

Well, you never know where it’s going to hit, how long it’s going to last, and whether or not that damage it does is going to be permanent so you always have to assume the worst. Then, you work like it may be your last opportunity to do whatever it is you’re trying to do.

The crux of the issue

I think that’s the crux of the issue – when you live with RA, every time you do something it could be your last, and that can be a scary thing.

The longer I live and the more times I dodge that particular bullet, I feel like it means less of a chance I get lucky the next time. I think... I’m not really sure how odds work, but it certainly makes for a very neat conclusion. Talk soon... or will we?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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