I don’t want to be a moaner or bring anyone down but I miss me, the old me I mean, the healthy one. The decorator, the factory worker, the dinner lady.
I was always healthy, until I wasn’t. Always busy scurrying here and there, no slow & steady pace for me, I walked fast, I was even a pretty good runner at school! When I left school I worked with my Dad, a dream job indeed. Dad was a decorator/handyman/gardener/anything you wanted doing really. When he took me on he thought “That’ll be nice, Gillian can do the weeding and plant flowers etc.”No not me, I wanted in on the big stuff, furniture moving, decorating, turfing, erecting fences and sheds, slapping on bitumen paint and riding the mower! Whatever Dad had to teach me I learned. We worked full days in all weathers & I loved it, getting mucky with mud and paint. It stood me in good stead when I got my own home, I did all the prep and decorating, putting up shelves and doing the garden.
Then I worked several other jobs, shop work (clothes and shoes), and then when I got married I did factory work, I ended up in charge of the printing machines, and then in my second factory I was a bench drill operator. Lifting heavy steel jigs and once again getting messy with the coolants, I loved it all.
Then I left work to have Lorraine, she’s 24 now (almost 25) & I had a whale of a time being a Mum. I was always busy & loved every minute of watching my baby grow. When I fell pregnant with my son Grant at the age of 23 I was doubly thrilled, a sibling for Lollie what could be more precious.
Then ‘it’ happened. My hands and wrists began to swell, like really swell like sausages. I had so much pain & no reason as to why so off I went to the Dr. He was a lovely man, not a permanent at our practice but a lovely man. I can’t remember his name but I can still see his face as he looked at my hands and said these exact words to me. “Don’t panic Mrs Pidler, but I think we may be looking at Rheumatoid here.” I don’t ever remember being scared when he said that, I didn’t even really know what it meant, I was all like “Ok so now what?” He started me on Voltarol to get the swelling under control and referred me to the rheumatology hospital up in Bath. I do remember my early visits up there pretty clearly, lots of blood tests including the day it took one lady 6 sticks to get less than a ml of blood from my uncooperative vein. She gave up after that! I say that but that one vein has done me proud over the last 24 years of monthly blood tests, maybe it was more the lady! I remember bringing home leaflets to read, seeing lots of rheumatologists, never the same one twice I believe. They stuck me on Sulphasalazine for 6 months which did nothing but make my hair come out. Then they decided to try me on Methotrexate (a low dose chemo med). I still take that med every week and I still hate it. I now do jabs instead of the handful of tiny pills that I would sit and look at, daring them to make me feel sick this time, putting off the moment that I had to swallow them. I now also take a bunch of other stuff that has been added into the mix over the years, some of them to negate side effects of the others, some for fatigue, some for dry eyes. They all have huge lists of possible side effects but I have to say in all honesty that I’ve been pretty lucky so far, most drugs they chuck at me my body can tolerate just fine. I know many people who are not so lucky.
My rheumy says I’m pretty well controlled, my labs look great on paper & he’s pretty happy with how I self manage, he trusts me to deal with my meds and pain relief etc as does my GP. But, I still wake up every day in pain and go to bed the same way with differing measures of pain in between, not to mention the fatigue. That’s RD, that’s how it goes, some days one joint may hurt the next every joint is flaring, it’s a crazy and difficult disease to understand because every single day is different. I say at least we get variety, right?! What he didn’t know about me before today’s apt is that I’m not who I used to be, I’m not the me that could do anything I wanted. I told him today how physical I used to be, the things I loved doing and how this last week instead of being the decorator I’ve watched my Dad, my darling Dad who would do anything for me, decorate my hall & landing for me. I’ve not yet lifted a paintbrush.
Tomorrow I plan to finish the woodwork while Dad’s busy elsewhere. I will get mucky & sit on the floor with my brushes and rag & I will finish that topcoat even if it means the next 3 days or so on the couch. And I will enjoy every minute of it even if it’s just a small glimpse of the old me