It could be…

Every year, I take my dog to see Santa Claus.  Not just because I spoil her rotten, but my beautiful Georgia wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 3 (she is now 7.5 years-old).  She has a debilitating and painful condition called Syringomyelia.  Living in pain myself, I vowed to never let her suffer.  It took about 6 months to get the condition under control with a combination of Eastern and Western medicines and treatments.  I drive 45-60 minutes each way to take her to acupuncture monthly.  I spend a fortune on treatments that aren’t covered by her insurance.  She eats an organic and grain-free diet.  She takes the most expensive joint and skin supplements because her knee joints are luxating and cause her pain, and her skin is dry due to medication and flakes.  She takes 14 pills a day.  I walk her rain or shine because she needs exercise.  Through the years, we’ve survived horrific flares and medical complications.  I’ve probably shed more tears over her pain than my own.  So that Santa Claus picture we get taken every year symbolizes victory to me.  Another year with my Georgia.  Another victory over SM.

I’ve been fighting Georgia’s disease since 2011.  I’ve been fighting my own disease since 2001.  I don’t take pictures to celebrate another year as a victory because prednisone makes me so bloated that I don’t look like myself.  I do use a combination of Eastern and Western therapies (when I have time to do it).  I make sure my doctor appointments are immediately after work and are located on my way home.  I don’t always have cash for acupuncture treatments, recommended supplements, gym membership because all my extra money goes to Georgia’s care.  My diet most often relies on my energy level and my ability to prepare a meal.  To me, cooking a full meal after working all day is a victory.  Oh, and let’s not forget stress eating because honestly, living in pain sucks and chocolate makes me happy.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to write this all down.  It could be that I am seeing Georgia’s mortality more  clearly the older she gets.  It could be that I am seeing my own.  Could be that I lost another beloved chronically ill pet, and Georgia’s health is now my only focus (beside my own).   It could be that my 5th biologic drug failed me and I’ve lived the past 10 months in constant flare and pain.  It could be that I’m starting over on biologic #6 and I’m scared that it won’t work.  Hell, I might even be scared that it will work for a little while and then fail again.

It could be that focusing on Georgia’s health keeps me from freaking out over my own.  Could be that even though I know my diseases are incurable, I still hold out hope for the cure.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

2 thoughts on “It could be…

  1. We write because we have too I think. Otherwise, where would we put it all? Santa only brings, he never seems to take things away. But when we go to see Santa, we can drop stuff off occasionally, like our cares.

    Liked by 1 person

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