Hi all! I know it’s been a while – but life has been quite busy over the festive period and I also had a bit of writers block!
When I last wrote, I was just getting started with my Cimzia treatment and I am pleased to say it has worked really well for me. First up, please don’t take that to mean I am cured – I still have challenges but they are much more manageable! My pain levels are low enough to not need a cocktail of painkillers on a daily basis and I have the energy I need to go about my daily life without having to make so many adjustments. It took about 5 weeks before I really noticed a difference, so I am hoping that I will be continuing on a upward trajectory physically.
In this piece, I want to talk about change. This has been an enduring theme in my life the last few years and something that is constant for everyone. Sometimes, change happens so gradually and subtly that we don’t even notice it has happened until we look back and realise we have come a long way. But in the life of a person with chronic illness, change can come quickly and suddenly, it can be extremely disorienting, one minute you are swimming along in calm clear water then all of a sudden, you’re trapped beneath the ice trying to find your way out while dealing with blinding pain. That kind of change is unwelcome, it can make having a ‘life plan’ difficult because it’s hard to know what you will be able to do tomorrow compared to today. And this kind of existence can really erode ones sense of self.
One of the wonderful things about my experience with Cimzia is that a lot of that uncertainty has lifted – I feel OK to say yes to things without being scared that it might suddenly become a no – I have a welcome change – stability. That said, I do also have to now think more about how my environment might affect my general health than I did before – I’m more susceptible to colds & respiratory illnesses than before (and have already needed a course of antibiotics). But, in this case, I am more able to take control and decide how that change affects my daily life – balancing the risk of illness with quality of life and productivity is a challenge I have and I am learning to fine tune things.
If you had asked me a year ago about how change was affecting my life, honestly, I probably would have told you it was ruining my life – that I had lost a lot of who I was due to things changing. I didn’t understand why things were going so badly, I was exhausted and I just wanted to stop the world undo all the unexpected changes and go back to who I used to be. Now, I have come to understand my body better that before, I have a working medication and a great medical team and I am able to say that I am ME, Cara. I am learning to accept the changes, rather than try to deflect or bury them away.
I would encourage anyone going through difficult times in life to give themselves time and space to adjust and process the changes (of course wallowing is unhealthy too – so be careful not to get stuck or blown away in a negative space). It’s not easy, but it is possible to find and ground your feet even in the most uncertain of times, as long as you are willing to be open and honest with yourself and also seek the support of others where needed.
Just this week, I have had another major life change – this time career related – the job I have been doing for the last 6 years is now coming to and end due to a restructuring. The next few months for me will be transitional – I will be focussed on me – working on finding a new career and honestly, as much as this change in circumstance has come suddenly, I am embracing it. I am in a transitional place in my life so the idea of a fresh start in my work life is actually quite exciting – I have a chance to explore the possibilities and carve out something new for myself.
When considering my life experiences, I have lost some things in life, but I have also made gains and I am constantly on a journey of growth, change and discovery and I am choosing to welcome and enjoy the latest part of my journey.