I remember when I was first diagnosed Rheumatoid arthritisI desperately wanted to feel the way I felt before I got sick. Free from pain, fatigue, medications and doctor appointments.
Then the pandemic hit, and now I long to feel like I did before this shit show started in early 2020. Life was a little easier; I felt better physically and emotionally.
I’ve been stuck in this COVID funk for what seems like forever. I admit that I am languishing. In these last three years, I have seen my health deteriorate and I myself have aged almost rapidly. My body feels different. My mind feels different. My soul feels different.
Before the pandemic it was flourishing. According to my rheumatologist, I was very close to remission. But then everything changed…
The cost of COVID on my health
In the past three years, a lot has happened that hasn’t been good for my rheumatoid arthritis or my overall health, including surgeries, tests, a cancer scare, a new diagnosis, extended periods of illness, and medication changes.
It’s safe to say that life has thrown a lot of shit at us in the last three years, and it has had a profound impact on my physical and emotional health and habits.
- am lonely and long for company but also want to be left alone
- I have isolated myself from friends and family (It has been over three years since I saw my father who lives all over the world).
- i’m angry and bitter
- I’m exhausted and burnt out
- I lack motivation
- I feel numb and empty inside
- I have become more sedentary
- I have increased my bad habits.
- I gained weight that I worked so hard to lose
- I feel disconnected from the world, locked up and forgotten.
My medicines and my disease make me high risk of covid complications, which means keeping myself safe, I’ve had to set boundaries with others. Unfortunately, this has opened my eyes to how some people view the chronically ill.
- I have lost friends because they made fun of me wearing a mask either get vaccinated.
- I have lost respect for people who have shown their worst colors and lack of care for others during the pandemic.
- I have seen medical professionals and treatments that give me a quality of life mocked by people who have never needed them.
- I’ve been told that people get sick and die all the time. It’s not your problem to help keep others safe.
- I have been told that I was brainwashed because I asked others to wear a mask or because I believe in modern medicine.
Finding the good in COVID
There have also been many good changes since the pandemic, things that have given me hope and joy in the last three years. Without them, I probably would have lost it.
I am incredibly grateful for the promotion to keep me going and give me something to do in the dark. In the last three years, I’ve definitely become more passionate about health advocacy and research.
I have also educated others about autoimmune diseases and what a respiratory infection can mean for us. In doing so, I have been featured on radio, television, and the web throughout the course of the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, I had to drag myself to the doctor’s office weekly for some minuscule need. Now I can chat with my doctor while sitting on the beach or in my pajamas from home. With telehealthI can spend less time being a patient and more time doing the things I want or need to do.
Virtual options in the form of volunteer meetings and conferences have also helped make life easier with AR. Can I my own pacemultitasking (such as exercising during meetings with the camera off, of course), and rewatching sessions or meetings to soak up all the information.
I went 2.5 years, the longest period of my life, without having a respiratory infection. Although COVID finally caught up with me when I took my son to a soccer game. Mom’s guilt for not doing much for my son was haunting me and they gave me free tickets.
mental health support
I changed my antidepressant because I felt that the one I was using at the beginning of the pandemic was not working for me. It has helped, my anxiety has decreased and I sleep better, but it is not a total solution to the emotions I have been going through lately. But switching medications wasn’t the only thing I did, I also contacted my clinical social worker to discuss some of the discomforts emotions I was experimenting.
Joy in a quieter life
Much of what I was doing before the pandemic I am no longer able to do, either because my favorite hangouts closed or became too expensive or potentially risky for me. And I’ve made my peace with that, finding a new joy in a quieter life.
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