May is the Stiffest Month

Dear Blog,

I admit it: I've been avoiding you.

I've been avoiding you because it's National Arthritis Month and I feel like I should write about living with chronic illness. And even though there's part of me that wants to write about my experience of illness, there's a bigger part of me that prefers to think and write about other things, to turn away from that shadowed corner of my life.

Blog, you know I'm afraid of coming across as a complainer. I'm still afraid of that, and probably always will be. Another struggle is that I wonder where on earth to begin. Do I begin during my childhood when the symptoms first began but - thank goodness - did not endure? Do I begin in my late twenties when I just didn't feel right, always tired, always sick, always cold? Or when I had a hard time conceiving and no one knew why? Or after The Bean was born when the joint pain I had as a child returned? Or after AJ was born when I was so sore and fatigued that I would lie down on the floor to comfort him because I couldn't lift him up? Where should I weave in the subplot of the gluten-free diet and how that helped tremendously..... for a while? Does the story begin on the stairwell of my old house when, four months pregnant with Sister, I dragged myself upstairs, resting on every step and wondering where the second-trimester "bounce" was? Or on the morning several weeks later at my mom's house, the morning I woke up with hands and feet so stiff and sore I could hardly move them? Or does the story really start a month after that, when the pain and stiffness moved into my shoulders and hips, and became so intense that all the symptoms I'd experienced in previous years paled in comparison?

Truly, dear Blog, I do not know where to begin or how to tell the story. I'm not sure where the climax is. And since there really is no ending with chronic illness, only tomorrow and tomorrow and the next tomorrow (and, BTW, thank God for that), I don't know how to guide the narrative toward its conclusion.

But since it's National Arthritis Month, and since I claim to be a Writer, I resolve to write a few things about chronic illness, my experience of it, what I've learned, and anything else I can come up with during what remains of May. I've started jotting thoughts down in my notebook, things like: meds(!); illness and $$$; asking for help; World Famous Medical Clinic; things I used to do. And just one glance at the cover of this month's Arthritis Today magazine gives me a few more ideas:

"Fear of Falling?" Why, yes, funny you should ask.
"Medication News: Latest Side-effect Caution" Ugh, don't tell me.
"RECLAIM Your Passion!" Much easier now that I'm able to actually hold a pen most days.
"My Dog & Me: When people and their pets have arthritis." Well....... mmmmmm........ not so much that one.

So, Blog, sorry I've been avoiding you. I promise to be in touch more often. All my writing books say, "Write what you're afraid to write about." Ok, I'll try. I'll take up the Arthritis Month theme. I'll try to be brave and honest without complaining. I'll try to write stuff that's interesting and insightful, but some of it might just be getting through the muck. And, Blog? Happy Arthritis Month. If there is such a thing.



CitricSugar said...

Good luck with writing what you're afraid to write about... You have my support and admiration!

minga said...

Just beginning is enough, perhaps. On the other hand, what you write helps your readers to deepen their understanding and see others through different eyes.