I’ve lived with some level of physical limitation for over a decade due to rheumatoid arthritis.
When it first struck, I had no idea what was going on and it took more than two years to be diagnosed. Since then, I’ve learned to work around the swelling, joint pain and limited range of motion-most days.
But this morning while trying to separate an eight pack of Powerade bottles, I was brought to tears over how something so simple for others to do is so very hard for me.
Grief has made simple things hard too.
Just as I schedule tasks around my stiff morning joints, I find that I must schedule meetings, social events and appointments around the times when I know I’m most vulnerable to being overwhelmed by sadness.
I can’t “think on my feet” anymore so I try hard to avoid being put in a situation where I might be called upon to do or say something without adequate warning or preparation.
Multitasking is a thing of the past.
I prioritize everyday chores so that I can do them sequentially instead of simultaneously. I forget things in the oven, in the washing machine, upstairs…
A morning of phone calls usually means that I’m wiped out for the rest of the day.
And just like the Powerade incident, I am brought to tears over the discrepency between what I used to be able to do, what other people can still do and what I struggle to do now.
It takes so. much. energy. just to get through the day.
Both my physical limitation and my emotional burden is invisible to others.
I’m not alone. Others are struggling too.
All around me are people who feel like they are traveling uphill.
It’s easy to become jaded and impatient and irritated when those around us are unable to keep up.
I’m trying to learn to lead with grace, mercy and compassion instead of anger, frustration and dismissiveness.
When I do, I’m rewarded with the knowledge that I’ve been a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.
And isn’t that really what we all would rather be?