My hands are a bit swollen tonight. Might be the heat. Probably is the arthritis. More than likely it’s a combination of the heat and Reynaud’s and the steroids reacting to the total nerve of my doing one load of laundry- WITH the children’s and my husband’s help.
They carried. I stuffed in the clothes. Emptied the clothes. They carried. I sat and folded. They carried.
For this I get swollen hands.
It’s just one of the little things. One of the tiny, little things I deal with daily and try my damnedest not to complain about because I can sit and fold. And as most people would say…I don’t look that sick.
It is for that reason, exactly, that I’m doing the laundry. So it can be packed into a suitcase and my family and I can fly to Washington, DC on Friday.
Why Friday? Because on Monday and Tuesday we hope to talk to some important people about our life. About how I don’t really look all that sick, but how life isn’t exactly normal around here. How I need help with the laundry, the dishes, and even need help raising my arms to brush my hair when days are bad.
Why Friday again you say? Because I can’t leave the day before, like most people. If I am going to fly somewhere I need several days to recover before being strong enough or comfortable enough to take on another task, like meeting with those very important people. So even though we may not tell our story until Tuesday, we have to leave the Friday beforehand.
These are small things though. So small. They are nothing compared to what we’ve been through and they are nothing compared to what others go through.
I’m lucky. My family is lucky.
You see, when I was finally diagnosed with SLE or Systemic lupus erythematosus (along with a host of other auto-immune disorders like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome and CIDP and Reynaud and unspecified connective tissue disorder and neuropathy and so on and so forth) we had family to support us. I had benefits through my supportive employer and we had decent savings and credit to help us through.
We still ended up nearly losing our home. We still ended up in crushing medical debt. We are still battling with Social Security Disability Benefits. And my private disability benefits through my employer continue to put me through second and third and fourth opinions and tests- the latest of which will include a neuropsychological evaluation to make sure it’s not all in my head or that I’m not too smart or too stupid or insane or sane, it’s not very clear why they are putting me through this all day, sit down test. Mind you this is on top of the stack of lab work they already have in their possession documenting my colon resection, my gall bladder removal, my stroke, my total hysterectomy, and of course the continued treatment that includes weekly inflammation tests, bi-weekly IV infusions (three days a week, 4-6 hours per day) and the BIG infusion that comes twice a month every four months that knocks my immune system so low I’ve even gotten a scrape INFECTED just after the IV.
Did I mention I AM ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES? We have the good insurance. We have the support. We have the roof still over our heads. I am able to charge our deductible so I can receive the treatment that so many can not afford. Not even with their insurance.
That’s why we have to go to DC. That’s why my 10-year old will wear a suit for the first time in his life, and my eight-year old will talk about Lupus to adults with more authority than any eight-year old has a right.
That’s why my husband will fidget with his top button under his tie…purple, for Lupus awareness…and try to keep it buttoned for as long as possible while also trying to explain just how shitty it is to be a caregiver to an ill wife.
That’s why I will humble myself and see people I haven’t seen in years, with my moon-face from the steroids and my weight gain from the steroids and tell them why ‘ObamaCare’ must remain in place or even the ‘lucky’ families like mine will lose it all for sure.
My doctor agreed a flight is not the best thing for my body, but so long as we are careful, the message we are bringing to DC is well worth the risk.
While we will be there, officially, for the National Lupus Advocacy Summit on June 24th-25th, you don’t have to have Lupus to have a story. I want to bring YOUR story to DC with us. We’re not just going to tell our ‘lucky’ story, because we know there are so many of you that don’t have it as well as we do. Or have it differently. We want to tell MANY stories. Ours and yours.
Share your story with me in the comments of this post. Let my family be your voice. Let us tell them of how you can’t get coverage, of how many times you have been turned down. Let us tell them about how you split pills because you still can’t afford your meds. Let us tell them about how just because you do not look sick, it doesn’t mean you are not suffering. Let us tell them about how your kids are handling it all. Your partner. Your parents, your friends, your employer.
They might even read your words directly.
This is your chance. Help us to help you. Let’s all make a difference together.
I want to type more. There is so much more I want to say. But it will have to wait because my hands remain swollen and I’m tired and I need to rest up.
We have work to do.
Comments are open. Use them. Spread this post far and wide to every one you know who struggles with chronic illness and needs someone, anyone, to tell their story.