On my fortieth birthday, I made the decision to pursue a business degree while working full time. I was feeling somewhat run down at the time and decided it was time to have a checkup. I went to my family physician who recommended I have my blood chemistry tested.
When I called back their office for the results, the woman on the other end said I tested positive for lupus. This test result was devastating news until my family physician returned from vacation, called me and explained the test was not indicative of a positive lupus test, but rather high ANA levels, and recommended I see a specialist. I was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma. The symptoms I was experiencing pointed directly to CREST.
I began a regular schedule of routine visits twice a year, which more than not seemed more scary than routine. There was never enough time between visits or freedom from pain to let me forget this shadow that had cast itself upon me. I have tried to do everything humanly possible to outrun the shadow.
I just experienced my forty-eighth birthday. I will never forget the look on my daughter's, husband's and parents' faces when I graduated from school. Fortunately, I have been able to continue working. I firmly believe that if I slow down, I will lose momentum. However, I am more selective on what I consider quality time. Now, I have resigned myself to the fact, it is okay to sit outside in my herb garden or pet my dogs, and just let the housework go. Housework will always be there tomorrow. Special moments that give us true pleasures are sometimes too few and far between.
Most importantly, during these past eight years, I have turned to my faith. I have learned from personal experience that sometimes not even our closest friends want to hear about medical changes taking place within us. It is not because they do not care, but rather their fear of the shadow. My faith has taught me not to judge, but accept their friendship and make the most of each moment.
Email: Withheld by request
Story posted 4-28-04
Story Artist: Judy Tarro
Story Editor: Judith Devlin
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Judy Tarro, ISN Artist, created the digital photo to illustrate the story on this page.
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