Choosing between what I love to do and what I can do

Having RA and having clubfoot has defined my life since I was a kid. I wasn’t able to fully participate in sports so I became the best student I could to be noticeable. Later on, I tried to have a normal life by getting married and having children. But by the time I was 26 I started having pain on my feet constantly and I could hardly walk.

That’s when I met my orthopedic doctor who, even though he never saw a case like mine before, he took the risk of doing a corrective surgery on my feet. It was a long procedure and a long recovery but it was worth it because I was back to an almost normal life. I had the opportunity to raise my children and do a lot of different things from dancing to traveling, working, and everything in between. That involved taking all the medications available at the moment for pain. With the years the bones in my feet deteriorated so much and the arthritis became severe.

In 2010 I needed another surgery on my left foot. I had to stop working and got a permanent disability. Now I have arthritis everywhere in my body which limits my daily life a lot. But since I am a resilient 48 years old woman I cannot resign from the pleasures of life such taking walks in the park, hiking, swimming at the cold waters of Del Water Gap, playing in the lake with my grandchildren, strolling in the city, or making my kids’ favorite meal. I cannot be standing up for long periods of time which means that if I cook I can’t take more than an hour doing it which is already a lot, or cleaning the house because I cannot bend down for more than a few minutes, or move heavy stuff. Sometimes I cannot even carry the grocery bags inside the house. That’s when I have to choose between what I love to do and what I can do.

I love going to the museums, or to the Botanical Gardens but that means long walks unless someone takes the burden of pushing me on a wheelchair but I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe later on I will. My other issue is that since I cannot do strenuous exercise is very difficult to lose weight but one thing that works for me is doing yoga and swimming.

Sometimes I have dreams of myself running on some green, beautiful hills but I wake up to the reality and it hits me hard because on real life I dream of traveling to all these places that I want to go one day, or doing all these things that my heart wishes. The Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, India, Patagonia, Guajira, learning to dive, riding a hot air balloon, or just running with my grandkids. Good news is that I learned to live one day at a time and I’m learning everyday how to enjoy life as it is.

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