First I wrote the “Lessons I Learned in 2013” post. I’d been taking notes throughout the year, so drafting this bad boy was a breeze. But the lessons were predictable (People love to be offended! A good couch is a great investment! America’s healthcare system is broken!) and the whole post felt forced.
Not my style. Plus, I didn’t want to look back. I was so over 2013.
So then I wrote some crap about all the emotions I was feeling at the start of a new year.
But it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel authentic.
The short version is that 2013 was not my year. I first showed signs of a Crohn’s disease flare-up on January 4, 2013. And I never really, truly, fully got better. I most definitely basked in fleeting moments of unabashed joy — like my first “run” back in Central Park (half a mile in 7+ minutes accompanied by the biggest, goofiest grin of all time), the day I somehow managed to run the New York City Marathon in 3 hours 58 minutes and three bathroom stops…
…or all the days I spent fawning over Tyler, who makes me laugh harder than any person I’ve ever known.
From start to finish, though, I never got on board with 2013, in spite of all my very best efforts.
Those 365 days (was it a leap year? can’t recall) kicked my ass to the ground, and when I thought I hit rock bottom, I discovered another layer ever-so-slightly lower. 2013 tested me and it tested my relationships. I distanced myself from some friends in 2013, and that’s OK. I also gained a ton of quality ones.
I fought hard for the relationships that mattered most, and there were days when I took advantage of those same relationships. In the end, I’m proud to say I still have parents who haven’t put me up for adoption (can they do that once I’m, oh, 28?)…
…a brother and sister-in-law who let me Skype with their son even when I’m crying too hard to be able to squeeze out words…
…and a boyfriend, Brian, who still tells me I’m pretty (eh, sometimes — he can be brutally honest, guys) and knows there’s no greater medicine than a hug.
I love hugs. Come on. Come at me. Hug me. I can’t get enough.
There were times during 2013 that I didn’t want to even be alive anymore. The physical pain, the emotional distress — I truly believed it was too much for me to handle. Every time I tried a new diet, a new medicine, a new homeopathic nature lady-endorsed whatever — and every time one of those things failed me — I wanted to give up.
Somehow I didn’t, though.
Somehow I made it through the year.
I didn’t make it out of 2013 feeling healthy. Since Thanksgiving I’ve gotten progressively worse, both in terms of pain and in terms of “urgency,” as my doctor cutely calls it (loosely translated, it’s “get the hell out of my way, I need a bathroom right now, rawrrrrrrrr!”).
But I’m here. And in spite of my health, which I miss dearly, I’m doing OK.
I’m happy about a lot of things right now, and I feel at peace with many of the things that were causing some pretty serious anxiety late in the year. I’m learning how to deal with things and I’m learning that sometimes it’s actually OK to say “screw it” and not deal with things at all (laundry, dishes, changing the sheets more than once every two months).
I’d be happier if I were healthy, that’s for damn sure. If I didn’t have this disease trying to beat me up constantly, I’d be pumped up with goals and plans, but you’d have to wait to hear about them because I’d definitely be out running for a long time, and then I’d want to talk about that. <3 Running <3
I’m learning to go one day at a time. I’m learning to be happy in the moment, and if I’m not happy in a particular moment, that’s OK — that moment will pass.
The first thing I did when the new year arrived was close my eyes and take a really deep breath. I guess all that yoga stuff really is rubbing off on me. I’d like to think I inhaled some positivity for the new year and let go of any lingering horribleness from the year gone by.
Then, on New Year’s Day, I finally faced my fears. It’s my fourth week on my new drug, Methotrexate, which is supposed to be done as a self-injection (in either the arms or the thighs, my doctor suggested) via syringe. During weeks one and two, I went to the doctor and had the nurse do it for me, because I was a big loser wimp. When I was in New Hampshire for Christmas, I had my mom’s nurse friend sneak off into a bathroom with me during a Christmas Eve party so she could do the shot for me.
On January 1, 2014, I didn’t have a doctor or a nurse by my side. So I took that same deep breath again, I washed my hands, sterilized a patch of skin on my leg, drew up the medicine into the syringe, sterilized my leg again to stall time, and then gave myself the stick.
I injected the medicine slowly, pulled the needle out, managed not to make myself bleed even a drop, and then it was done.
And then I burst into tears.
I wasn’t sad and I definitely wasn’t in pain. I don’t really know where the tears came from. Relief, maybe? Pride tears?
It’s been four weeks and the drug hasn’t started kicking in yet. The doctor said to expect results in 4–6 weeks, so I’m still hopeful.
I’m also realistic. I know this may not work. I know I may still have many treatments, many experiments and many sick days ahead of me. I know I can’t make a grand declaration about how I’m going to stay hyper-positive throughout 2014.
I don’t have the slightest clue what 2014 is going to throw my way. I don’t have any expectations. I don’t have any resolutions or any goals.
But I know one thing I’ve discovered in myself: resilience. And I’m going to do my very best to hang onto it, no matter what.
Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you, from the bottom of my sickly little heart, for sticking by me during this less than fun year. Your comments, emails and Tweets really did keep me going through my darkest days, and I truly believe more than ever in the kindness of strangers (or, more appropriately, in the kindness of internet friends, because I believe you are my friends even though we’ve never met).