What do you do when your anxiety over your chronic illness gets the best of you?

I’ve been contemplating writing about my surgeries and how much metal I have in my body for a while now. It’s constantly in my head. It’s constantly banging on the door and peeking its head over the hill just to look at me, staring me in the face and say “hey I’m still here.”

I have always wondered how many surgeries I would end up having at the end of my joyous life. Call it morbid or whatever but it has always been a curious question of mine. Both hips, reconstructed feet, hands, both knees, and now a wrist… everything has a fake joint or some type of pin or screw. As I was having my second knee done last year I thought “Is there ever going to be a point when there’s so much metal in my body that it becomes a problem, a serious health problem?”

Hopefully I’m thinking crazy and that there is such thing as a stupid question but I can’t help but think what if it’s not. It became a worry of mine but was just hanging way in the back of my mind last year. As time got closer to having my left wrist straightened this year, the thought kept coming straight up to the front in big bold capital letters.

There are some valid points to take into consideration. I’m extremely immunosuppressed. I mean not only do I take immunosuppressants to keep my disease in check but I also have monthly doses of low dose chemo to try to put my disease in remission. Which I obviously have never reached. For precautionary measures I have to take antibiotics every time I have a dental cleaning or procedure, and let’s not forget the less contact I have with people around flu and holiday seasons the better, not to mention the masks I wear every time I walk into a doctor’s office. All of this just to keep any type of infection at bay. It takes one infection to settle into an artificial joint and I’m essentially fucked.

With all that said however, the metal is surgical grade. Every time I have a slight fever or I get a cold my rheumatologist stops all immunosuppressive meds and I’m sent for extra IV fluids and antibiotics. My surgeons understand the importance of healing time with physical therapy and continuing monitoring of me a little more thoroughly than the average healthy person. So, now, I should feel comfortable and trust my doctor’s have my best interest at heart and be happy go lucky, not worrying about a thing. If I should feel comfortable then why am I continuing to harp on this one feeling?

Well… I’ve had a couple days to mellow out and push this thought way, way out of my head. When you find something, anything that takes your mind off of any type of anxiety you have….just run with it. I think out of all of the feelings anyone could possibly have, anxiety might be the worst for me. I’ve dealt with depression my whole life but the levels of anxiety I experience as I’m growing older is sometimes relentless. I would be lost without my weekly support group. Those people have become more than friends, they are family to me now. We might be an odd group of individuals. You would probably never think that all of us are actually friends. We come from all different walks of life. Some are old, some are young, some are very well off and others just get by, but every single one of us needs each other in one way or another.

How do you deal with an undying, relentless anxiety over one stupid thing? There are times when I get to a point, and I just can’t think about it anymore. I just can’t keep questioning what will happen, when will it happen, why will it happen, What will be the trigger? I think with anxiety you get to a point where you just have to give up. You have to let those feelings go, take a deep breath and tell yourself it’s going to be ok. At least that’s what I do. I make myself so crazy for so long and stress myself out so much, that I just end up saying shut the fuck up to myself. Because I can’t handle that anymore, I can’t handle the questions, I can’t handle the added stress, I can’t handle the fear of the unknown. I think when it comes to your health, it is 500 times worse than any normal, regular question.

Usually when I get to that point I remember a verse in the Bible. No I don’t always read the Bible but this verse is actually a good one when it comes to anxiety.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” -proverbs 31:25

There are times I sit and read this sentence over and over again. I read it until it is completely memorized letter by letter. I read it until I believe it. At this point in my life I have to believe it. I have to believe that my life will not end that way.

It makes me calm.

It helps me breathe easier.

It takes away the headache.

What a powerful little sentence it is. Now if only I could just get my head to believe what my heart already knows.

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