Dreams & Disappointments

Today I finally saw a rheumatologist for my joint pain. I’ve had joint pain for some twenty years, so this is kind of a big deal. She’s sending me for more tests, which is great, it’s exactly the reason I went to see her. Nobody’s ever done x-rays or anything, and I’m about tired of being blown off. So, more tests it is.

But here’s the catch- she warned that we still may not get any answers. Apparently, I don’t fit in any box. (First time I’ve ever not been happy to hear that, I tell you!) It seems my symptoms don’t really fit RA, and I definitely don’t have fibromyalgia. So why the hell am I in so much pain then? We may never know.

The thing is, I don’t want to have rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t want to be told that I have an incurable disease that will eventually leave me unable to move my joints. Dear gods, it sounds horrible! But the alternative is that they tell me they have no idea what’s wrong, and can’t do anything to help me. Both options leave me dealing with this pain for the rest of my life. This is not what I want to be facing at 31 years old with 4 small children. It just isn’t.

I have goals, dammit. Dreams. Not huge ones, I’m really a very simple person. But dreams nonetheless. I want land, all my own, where I can run a little subsistence farm. I want to work the land, day after day, feeding my little family from my work. I want to fill my time with activity, with using my hands, with creating. And right now that seems impossibly out of reach.

I recently had the opportunity to weed three small raised garden beds. Less than an hour of weeding left my hands painfully swollen and shaking. Kneeling on the ground, even with a pad, left my knees and hips stiff and aching. My fatigue gets so bad that I have to rest between crochet stitches while making gifts for my loved ones. Sometimes the pain in my fingers, wrists, and elbows is so severe I can’t even try to pick up a project. My hands get so weak that my phone slides right out of my grip.

Maybe I’m just feeling a bit of self-pity right now. Or maybe the universe is playing some cruel joke on me by giving me a body that cannot physically keep up with my dreams. But all I can think about right now is that this is my big, big goal. This is what I want to do with my life. This is the most important thing to me. I’ve already witnessed my children being hungry. I’ve witnessed the outcome of a life without nature, without hands in the earth. And it’s not what I want. I want to provide. I want to dig, and till, and sow, and harvest. I want a very simple, but very physical life. I want to create a safe haven for my children. Where they will always have a roof and a meal. I want to create it with my own hands. And right now I can’t even take a walk without limping. And I’m so fucking disappointed I feel like my soul is shattering.

I thought all I wanted was an answer. But I was wrong. I don’t want any of these options to be the answer. Because none of them offer me any relief. All I really want is a body that doesn’t hurt.

What the hell am I supposed to do with myself if a pain-free body isn’t an option? What will my life’s goal become if I have to drop the one I’ve been fostering for nearly a decade now? Everything in my life has centered about that end goal. Learning to sew, crochet, cook, shoot, hunt. Desperately trying to develop my green thumb. Reading, absorbing, educating myself about homesteading, building a home, providing. Never once did I consider that my very hands would betray me by being incapable of these tasks at times. Never did I consider that the joy of hiking, foraging, gathering, would be thwarted by stiffness in my legs so severe that it changes my very gait when I walk. I thought I was going to this appointment for answers, and now I’m facing questions that I don’t even want to consider. I don’t know where I go from here…