A couple of years ago, when on bed rest for a month after a hospitalization for uncontrolled and severe back spasms (which we know now were related to the PsA), I was in a very dark place. I found myself laying in my bed cursing God, railing at my fate, and making obsessive lists of all the things I couldn't do anymore - all of those things that defined who I was in my own head. I was a single mother of two "tweens" (now full-blown teenagers), I had no romantic prospects (who would want to date a fat chick covered with psoriasis who wasn't even allowed to get out of bed?!?), and I had a love/hate relationship with my demanding and stressful job that I couldn't even go out and DO! It was ugly. I didn't like who I was becoming AT ALL.
Suddenly, after 3 weeks of bed rest and on about the 4th page of "Things I Can No Longer Do," I realized that I was looking at this whole thing completely wrong. Instead of crying, screaming, and gnashing my teeth about everything I felt I had lost, I needed to look, instead, at all of the things I could still do....and more importantly, to list all the things I could still do with MODIFICATIONS! Sure, I wasn't likely to be able to hike the Appalachian trail anytime soon, but by golly, I could still get out into the national parks (or even a local city park) for an hour or a day, take a sack lunch, and commune with nature from a folding chair or even from my car. I may not be able to go rough-camping out in the middle of nowhere, but I could still take my kids the the Texas Renaissance Festival and camp for the weekend - the kids in a tent that they learned how to pitch for themselves, and me on the handy, dandy queen size self inflating tall air mattress that had been collecting dust in the shed. I may not be able to walk through the whole fair, but I can rent a wheelchair and have my kids and (now) husband push me around it. I have trouble playing the piano (and playing the cello is completely out for now), but by golly I can listen to the music that I used to play and I can encourage my kids to pursue music if that is what they want. I can attend their concerts and feel my heart swelling with pride to see my tall, handsome boys becoming good men with a balanced appreciation for life. I may no longer be able to WORK in the nonprofit field, but I am helping my parents create the formation documents for the nonprofit organization they are starting and just last night I joined the board of directors for the charter school my youngest is attending. I still have purpose. Just because I am limited physically, it absolutely does NOT negate all the wisdom and knowledge I have acquired over the last 45 years.
Oh! And guess what? I managed to find the perfect love of my life by joining on on-line dating service. We got married, and even the psoriasis knelt before my overwhelming happiness and calmed down enough that I could wear a strapless wedding dress! I met him and married him within 8 months. We have been married for 3 years. He loves me for who I am - even though I am sometimes mean and cranky, even though I sometimes can't do much around the house, even though I can't work and he is left trying to support our family on his income alone, even though I sometimes have ugly red and scaly patches of skin - sometimes in places that are better left undisclosed. Furthermore, I have inherited a whole new family who love me (though admittedly they do like to tease me about my diametrically opposed political views that buck the traditions of his entire family). I have a family who loves me, a set of in laws who love me, kids who love me, a dog and cat who love me....and most importantly, I have learned to love me again too. Life is good.