Facing the Hard Truths of Living with a Chronic Condition — To Medicate or Not

Have you ever had a really bad cramp or headache and instead of taking medicine you said you would just lay down? What about having that same excruciating pain for that entire week? Month? Or even an entire year?

Initially one would just sleep it off, and if it was a week worth of pain, one would probably pop some meds and try to push through. But when a week turns into 2 or even 3 weeks of non stop pain, what would you do then?

This was my initial reaction when I felt the pains of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 15. Initially, I tried to exercise the pain away. In the mind of almost any athlete we often assume if we train harder the muscle will get stronger which duh equals less pain right ? — well, not in my case. In fact, this joint pain put me flat on my back in agony. Still in disbelief, I rejected any advice from my mom, dad, siblings, nurses, doctors on taking any prescription drugs. In agonizing pain every night and every morning I often considered the medication but at the same time the voices popped in my head blarring the side effects discussed in every visit. With ever side effect always ending in either cancer or death with the infamous line of most doctors saying “but thats highly unlikely” — Like who in the heck would choose that. Thats like playing rushian roulette with one in the revolver and saying death is highly unlikely . I can be a bit dramatic — I digress.

There I was. Teetering the line of choosing my poison. Most with any type of chronic pain can attest to having to make this decision.

I decided to take the medication and for 10 years I was back to playing sports, training and doing my thing. Then the 10th year hit and it was like someone hit the emergency shut off “pain free” valve and gradually the rehersed pain from 10 years prior resurfaced along with my doctors voice saying “medications may have to be changed due to your body becoming immuned to it”.

The next doctors appt felt like I was in a time warp, as we went through more drugs with strange side effects. There I was, teetering the line again. Picking my fate. To the doctor and my family it may seem like an easy pick but trust when I say — It aint easy! Because if side effects happen, guess who has to feel them — You guessed it — ME.

It was at that line for the second time that i realized. This ish is really happening and I had to do something. It was that day I accepted my reality and started reasearching everything about my diagnosis and what I could do. I was taking back my power by being able to have informed choice. This meant advocating for myself and having conversations with my healthcare team and not just doing as I was told. Becoming my own advocate and learning about the condition the doctors diagnosed me with has been life changing and worth it. My diagnosis trys its best to bring me down but finding what regime works for me helped me to start living my beautiful life again.

To all my autoimmune warriors and chronic pain sufferers out there, keep on pushing. The truth hurts sometimes but you only have one body, so you might as well learn all that you can so that you can have informed choice to make the best decision for YOU.

Happy healing,

Netta