Heal as we grow Grow as we heal
by Shivani Barve
It was March, 1995. At 26, I was a smart, fit and charming younglady; thrilledand excited...and getting married! A new world, a new dimension to life, WOW! But my destiny was designed differently...in May, I was diagnosed with arthritis. The battle had begun.
Twenty-six..2 & 6...26, this number was supposed to define the beginning of the rest of my happily-ever-after! And look, what I got. I always questioned myself, destiny, God, almost everyone and everything in my life WHY ME? This was NOT how my life was supposed to turn out.
There were 3 of us in my marriage my husband, me and my arthritis. I didn't know much about the treatment of arthritis (not even the fact that it can be treated) and the half-truths I heard contained the dreaded and mystery-word steroids! So I never consulted any rheumatologist (as I didn't know something / someone like that actually existed!)
Life was going on with a constant endeavour of coping with arthritic pains. The sea of sufferings stretched to horizon and beyond. However one big island of joy cropped up while braving the arthritis storms our baby! My mind was overjoyed but my body had to brace for the consequential challenges in the coming months because, by the time, arthritis had totally engulfed it. Simple, day-to-day movements gave me shivers. I couldn't take painkillers due to pregnancy and this situation made every day seem as long as a year! During my pregnancy, (my old friend) Yoga came to my aid. Being a gymnast in childhood, Yoga was part of my fitness regime. And it certainly did a fantastic job throughout the nine months and thereafter too. Bluer blues came back when I couldn't pick up, cuddle and pamper my baby! But then one day my misfortunes turned around and actually started to back out it was the day when I met a rheumatologist just right for me!! Of course arthritis didn't leave me alone but coping with it became much easier and manageable. For the first time, in the longest time, I thought, perhaps, this was a battle I could win!
Life didn't spare me from the daily routine. By now, my son Sahil was ready to go to kindergarten and it was difficult for me to help him on the scooter and drop him to school. But yes, I was a perfect mom to him in each and every way and did all the right things for him albeit at a slower pace! And I was happy doing all the rigors!! Again, I thank my stars for blessing me with an understanding & loving husband and caring family members. My husband took complete care of our son's school-related responsibilities. As my son grew up I fully explained my physical condition to him and also the limitations it set on me. I told him why I couldn't playfully fight with him or run and jump with him. I also found it difficult to carry out even petty household jobs (simple for any healthy person) like cutting vegetables, making Rotis, lifting a cooker or pan; but, due to my condition, I have developed patience over those years and have devised some simple ways for doing the daily jobs. Indeed, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of doing all this for my family!
By 2000, I was a trustee of MAI. Arthritis with me was literally, as they say, through rain and sunshine, in sorrows and joy, in all 'walks' of my life! Joining MAI turned my life around. MAI participated in a camp organized for juvenile arthritis patients. I met juvenile arthritic patients and their parents and realized that they were fighters...real strong ones. They literally had the rest of their lives ahead of them and my 'WHY ME?' instantly vanished.
I am unfortunate to have arthritis but lucky enough to get loving parents and mother-in-law, a well-behaved bright son and a considerate, accepting husband! I'm fighting arthritis 'head-on' thanks to their support! My rheumatologist, too, helped me a lot, not just with medication but providing psychological support to lift my willpower. My days are based on medicines, regular exercise, and proper diet to keep bodyweight under control, helping others and contributing to MAI's work. In fact, working for MAI satisfies me immensely and is in fact, rejuvenating!
I pray to God daily to bless others too, with the gem-like people I met in my walk of life who gave me support and courage to fight the grim situations. As I have said earlier I enjoy this work and am also happy to share my experiences with you!!
Living with arthritis isn't easy but baby steps do see a light at the end of the tunnel!
Life becomes easier if you accept & fight your disease...