I have a lot to share about life with a chronic illness, but first, let me introduce myself. My name is Michelle, and I am a 34-year-old wife to Kevin and mother to two girls, ages 12 and 16. I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse when I was 16, Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 23, and Rumination Syndrome, most recently at 34. I have a high propensity for breast cancer, and my first lump was found when I was 22; my first (benign) tumor was found when I was 30.
Overall, I am sick and tired most days. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am so exhausted most days, yet I somehow find the energy to work a full-time job, then cook for my family most nights, and of course, clean. The cleaning never ends. I’ve seen memes about not knowing adulthood meant cleaning the kitchen every night, and man, isn’t that the truth?
I have learned to manage my chronic illnesses over the years, mostly through diet and lifestyle changes and, sometimes, with medication. I don’t particularly appreciate being medicated, so I try to avoid it until it is indispensable and I have no other options. The more challenging part to manage is my brittle bones – I have broken my ankle, foot twice, and ribs in the past two years. The most recent broken foot has been 11 months since the break, and it still won’t heal due to the Rheumatoid Arthritis, which leaves me in constant pain with no relief. My ankle broke while walking across a parking lot, and my ribs broke when I dropped a pen and leaned over my office chair arm. True story. As for the foot, the first time was when a fence dropped on it (which sounds much more reasonable than the others), but the second time? I slipped into a puddle. Yep.
Throughout the last few months leading to my recent Rumination Syndrome diagnosis, I have spoken with so many other moms out there battling their chronic illnesses – from minor arthritis to mental illness to terminal cancer. And the one thing that I have found we all have in common is that we all feel alone in our struggles. I decided to write this Diary and to put myself out there for two purposes: 1) to be an outlet for my feelings and emotions, and 2) to let every one of those other moms (and non-moms) know that they are NOT alone. They have friends and family and even random strangers on the internet who are in the same boat, whether they realize it or not, and who are willing to be a listening ear and a helping hand. These diary entries will be raw, mostly unfiltered, and emotional. I say primarily unfiltered because let’s be honest, I tend to cuss like a sailor in person and will try to reign that in some ;).
Diary, my main hope here is that if someone struggles with any chronic illness, they keep reading. I have so much to share and so much hope for my future, but I am just so damn tired and am going to call it a night. I’m just trying to live one day at a time and hope that light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.