What I Hope For in the New Year as a Person With Ankylosing Spondylitis
It’s that time of the year when the festive melody of Christmas should soothe the mind and warm up the heart. But here I am, sans the cheer, recovering from a chronic back ache and nursing a state of mind that is only leading me into a pool of depression. A week’s holiday went under house arrest due to untold woes of inflammation. It may sound to be a state of ultimate rest — that’s what our body needs when you take a break from long working hours — but a holiday on a bed is the last thing on your mind as a way of relaxation. Well, I kept my chin up by telling myself, “Cheer up, Christmas is here and near!” Some holiday movies of the season and books did enliven the spirit that was otherwise doused with pain.
When you live with an autoimmune disorder like ankylosing spondylitis that leads to chronic pain and fatigue, a big risk you carry all the time is of unpredictability. I always keep myself prepared with what can strike and when, but sometimes the timing just hurts. And what do you do then? Pick yourself up, all by yourself, and look ahead. That’s what I have learned. Sometimes you just need to keep your mind cool and say, “So what if my holidays are spoiled? So what if I have unbearable pain, I need to get up and face the sun? Get the much needed warmth, taste the bitter sweet winter, wrap yourself with whatever energy you have and move on.” So here I am, looking forward to one of my favorite festivals, sipping my coffee, all geared up to form my New Year’s resolution. Today, as I sit through a calmer and lesser depressed mind, I realize life is only as tough as I see it, and only I can lead it to a better tomorrow.
So what’s my resolution for the upcoming New Year? While people will plan for a new home, a child, a new job, vacations and celebrations, I just hope and wish that I have enough energy and endurance to run my life. Yeah, that’s the resolution. The pledge to gain more strength, fight the fatigue, emerge more supple and mentally stronger with a dollop of motivation to feel good about myself. Now that sounds like the perfect New Year resolution in the condition I am in. I’ve realized that when you live life with a chronic disorder, what you most need is the motivation to overcome the fear of the unseen. Because it is this fear that holds you back. It makes you imagine an untoward future causing more and more mental agony. It’s so important to take one day at a time. It’s imperative to take up every challenge the disease poses to you and put your heart in fighting it. You need the angel within you to strengthen your determination to overcome your woes.
Disorders like ankylosing spondylitis are not localized. It doesn’t just affect a part of my body. It tends to be systemic, affecting overall well-being and state of mind. It can instill fear, a sense of loss and disability; it can make me anti-social and dull my usual cheerful self. But it is still just a medical disorder. And my well-being is still in my hands. So while the town is painted red and green and I feel lonely within – I still know there’s a lot to look forward to. There’s a lot of joy of Christmas that is yet to come my way. I have put together a short list of what I want to do to make the next year better and am sure, dear readers, you may relate to some of these:
1. Strive to be fit and strong.
2. Shed the extra pounds and cleanse my body of toxins.
3. Make workouts a way of life – walk, dance, take up a sport I can bear, etc.
4. Discover peace of mind and try not to lose it
5. Make new friends and nurture old bonds of relationships, and most importantly…
6. Look at ankylosing spondylitis as a companion for life, know it better and forge a pact of kindness with it!
Believe me, I already feel good when I think of these resolutions. I know they are tough considering I barely have any energy to make so much a part of my life. But I am looking forward to drawing energy from fellow people. To reconnecting with a lost self, reading more, writing more, volunteering, spending time with loved ones and above all being kind to myself. There’s now a greater desire to go back to life’s motto – I will not let anything stop me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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Thinkstock photo by graytown