Friday, May 7, 2010

Fortune Friday: Is it??


I know this is our very first Fortune Friday but I'm not kidding when I say that upon cracking open my cookie earlier, I found that there was no fortune inside!  I know this may seem like a cop out but it's true, and I was disappointed myself. Disappointed, but not surprised.  Not today.

I don't really want to be too superstitious about the whole thing, but something tells me the cookie knows.  There is nothing fortunate about today, certainly not after finding out that I have a debilitating condition.  I just got back from my appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and I've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis.  I went to see her (my doctor) initially thinking that I may have dislocated my left pinky finger.  But as soon as she sat down to speak with me and took one look at my finger, she knew.  She told me it was her suspicion but she didn't want to believe it either because of my age.  She said, "...but you're just 36!"

Yes, I'm just 36 and that is quite young for anyone to have this condition.  But the x-rays confirmed it.  She showed how my joints are rubbing against each other, causing the pain and inflammation, and how there is practically no cartilage in between.  There is no cure for this and pain management is really all there is.  Most likely it will progress as I age.  Is there something I could have done to prevent this?  No, it's genetic she said.  The only hope is that the condition is localized and will not occur in any of my other joints / fingers.  Who's to say and who can predict?  No one really.

I was stupefied during the entire drive home and I admit it was only by the grace of God that I was able to reach home accident-free.  It's just that when the reality finally fully hit me, I realized that I was correct in joking with my Mom years back that every condition or pain she has, I have at an accelerated pace and at a much younger age.  And then I suddenly remembered that my Dad has stiffness in his fingers as well; and how my paternal grandmother also had stiff joints and fingers.  Well, then I guess I was wrong all along in thinking that I was genetically desirable. 

All the worries set in and that's what made the burden all the more heavy. What if my condition deteriorates too quickly, causing my hands to deform? How can I carry my son, play with him and take care of him to the fullest? What if typing and writing become too painful or impossible?  If I'm aging this bad, this quickly, should I even be thinking of having another child?

All these thoughts flowed...or actually, it's more like gushed through my mind until all there was for me to do was pray.  

I had to take a deep breath and ask for perspective.  I had to remind myself that I'm not terminally ill; that I am still very mobile despite the slight discomfort and that I am still blessed with the choice to either play the sick role or enjoy every day and every activity that my body is still capable of engaging in.  I can choose to simmer in my suffering and grieve the partial (and eventually, complete) loss of my pinky finger but that won't accomplish anything, will it?  I can regret the million times I took this finger for granted and thought how useless it was but that's all in the past now.  I need to look and move forward.  

I can still choose to live a healthier and more active life even though doing so will not and cannot really reverse my condition.  At the very least, in so doing I can give the rest of my body a better shot at performing well for a longer time.  I can still choose to be grateful everyday for every single body part I have no matter how seemingly useless they are, because now I know better.  

I do still have choices and choosing well can help me live a fuller life and share a more joyful existence with my loved ones...rather than wither away.

We all have deadlines in this life.  This diagnosis just brought to the fore the fact that I really do need to live in the moment.  You can never tell if tomorrow will take away life as you know it today.  Change is inevitable and I know that though all of us know that and hear that all the time, not until it actually happens, do we really realize that all we can do is adapt.  You may be terminally ill, have some disability whether major or minor, have recently lost a loved one, or lost your job or your home.  Whatever kind of change it may be, once you realize that life always gives you choices, you are already one step closer to freeing yourself from that which holds you in fearful captivity.  As soon as I realized that I still have choices, it paved the way for gratitude...for what I still have and am capable of.  And once you let gratitude wash over you, the burden does begin to feel lighter and you start to focus more on what you (still) have instead of what you don't have or how you desire life to be.  Somehow, gratitude always finds a way of blurring that which most incapacitates us in living a fuller life.  

What do you know?  It IS Fortune Friday after all!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Joy. I was struck by what you said about gratitude. Thanks!

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