30 Things about My Illness

I am not 100% sure what I want to talk about today because there’s too many little things on my mind, so I’ve decided to adapt something I found on My Pink Bubble World (thanks for posting this Jennifer!).  Not only is it Lupus Awareness month, but it is also Arthritis Awareness Month (which makes me wonder if it shouldn’t just be Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month).  Anyway, here’s 30 Things About My Illness you may or may not already know.

1. The illness I live with is: 
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disc Disease

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:  2012

3. But I had symptoms since: 
At least since the fall of last year but I have had some occasional symptoms for years.  The DDD has been going on for about 10 years.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:  
I used to be the go-to person at work and at home, but I can no longer give 120% to everyone all the time.  I can maybe give 50% some of the time.   I have to let my body be in charge of everything I do.

5. Most people assume: 
I don’t know.  I haven’t been able to get out much and so my time with people since diagnosis has been limited.

6. The hardest part about mornings are:  
EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  I hate everything about morning.  I hurt the most in the morning and have the most limitations on my mobility in the morning.  Plus, I have to start yet another day with lots of pain.  It can be difficult to get over those morning grumpies.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:  
Grey’s Anatomy.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: 
My iPad.  Also my Kindle.  I can’t hold regular books for long anymore, so the Kindle has been so great to have.

9. The hardest part about nights are:  
Having difficulty falling asleep.  I hate laying in bed at night with my mind going crazy.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins.
11 1/2 unless I need pain meds.  Wednesdays I take 15 1/2.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I:
am on the fence.  I have started acupuncture, and I haven’t yet decided if it is helping or no.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: 
I don’t know.  Probably visible because it’s hard to get those “you don’t look sick” comments/looks.

13. Regarding working and career:   
I just don’t know yet.  I haven’t been able to work in almost two months, but I am really hoping to be able to go back part time soon.  It won’t be the same as it was before, and I don’t know if ever will be, but I miss being around people!

14. People would be surprised to know: 
how much of my day is spent planning around pain and evaluating how I feel.  I can get really tired of thinking about how I feel.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: 
I will never be who I was before.  I will have to live with these diseases for the rest of my life.  We may find good treatments that put me into remission for a period of time, but it is impossible to know if/when that will happen.  Everything been a great unknown is hard for me.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: 
I don’t have an answer yet.

17. The commercials about my illness: 

Do not in any way capture the reality of them.  Also very much trivialize the horrible side effects most of the treatments can have.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: 
Working.  Walking at the lake with Bill.  Tucking my daughter in upstairs every night.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:
Alcohol and coffee.  Though I wasn’t much of a drinker of alcohol and I do still drink about half a cup of coffee everyday.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:
Lots of iPad apps.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:  
Have a vacation fun day with Bill and the kids.

22. My illness has taught me: 
To relax.  To not worry so much about doing things perfectly.  To not worry so much what other people think of me/expect from me.  To listen to my own instincts and needs.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: 

You’re too young to have that.
24. But I love it when people: 
Treat me like a normal person.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:   
It’s not a motto/scripture/quote but the sppon theory has really helped me.


26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:  

It’s okay to be pissed off and to grieve; it’s okay to be angry and bitter.  And then, you need to let that go and find a way to make your life work around your illness.  It will be different than it was before, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
How much I would change as a result of this. I feel like my whole outlook on things has changed because I have had to change my behavior so much.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:   

A very funny care package from my co-workers.

29. One thing I wish everyone could know about my illness:

Rheumatoid arthritis is not an old person’s disease and it is NOT just about achy joints.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: 
Good.  I hope more people will try to talk about their illnesses, invisible or otherwise, so that we can try to become more thoughtful of one another.

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Picking a Number on the Pain Scale

I have been thinking a lot about measuring pain.  Yesterday I mentioned that I think people with chronic pain have a different scale than “normal” people.  Our baseline is set differently.  For example, to me a good day is when my pain is a 2-3.  I can not remember a day in the last year (maybe longer, when I think about it) when my pain was lower than a 2.  So for me 2=0.   I have gotten pretty good at analyzing my body, trying to figure out what hurts and how much, trying to figure out which disease is acting up.  You have to do that when you have multiple issues, so you know what’s working and what’s not.  So each day, I am choosing between my RA, fibro, and my DDD.  Almost everyday there is some issue with my back (DDD) and typically my RA and my fibro trade-off (which I feel is pretty considerate of them).

Today my pain was around a 6. Some days I have localized pain that is high and the rest of me is at the 2 baseline.  Frequently, it will be my back or my hands that hit a 7-8 while the rest of me is pretty ok.  Today I was a solid 6 from head to toe.  That kind of pain is rough for me because everything hurts.  I can’t use my hands, it hurts to walk, but it hurts to sit.  Etc, etc.  When I told my acupuncturist that I was 5-6 today and that it was pretty bad she asked, “That’s bad?” I hesitated a moment and I said, “yes when you have already taken a lot of medication and you are at 6.”  What I should have said is that when I say six, I mean that it is hard to function.  I have taken my normal meds plus Tramadol; I have stretched and tried to walk it out; I have done everything I can and I am still miserable.   And maybe it was the fact that so many different things hurt today that made the 6 seem so awful.  Who knows.  Either way she stepped up my treatment and I left feeling better.  Hopefully it lasts.

While I was sitting with all my needles, my acupuncturist talked to a new patient nearby (I go to a community acupuncture clinic so there are several people being treated in the same room).  The woman said her pain was a 2-3, and that it was really bad.  Linda asked the same question- “That’s bad?” and the woman explained that for her, having pain at a 2 meant that she had difficulty walking which was a big adjustment because she’s a runner.

All of this got me to thinking about pain levels, about how we measure pain, about how we compare ourselves to others based on where we are on that scale.  I started thinking about doctors, and how difficult it must be to interpret people’s answers to the pain scale.  If I tell my doctor I am at a 2, I will get happy remarks.  But there may be others who say they are at a 2 and the doctor needs to be concerned.  But how do they know who is who?

It all seems so crazy subjective to me.  It’s no wonder that getting diagnosed is difficult when you have chronic pain.  It’s almost a guessing game!  Maybe doctors should ask patients to create their own pain scales with their own personal descriptions to make it easier to understand each patient.  Mine would like something like this

0-1: obviously I am dead because this doesn’t happen

2-3: a pretty good. Some aches and pains, but nothing major

4-5:  I hurt.   I need pain meds.  I am limiting my activities considerably.

6-7:   I hurt a lot.  I need a steady stream of pain meds, heat, stretching, and I am probably still pretty miserable despite all of that

8-9: Extreme pain that is severely limiting activity; pain unresponsive to medication, heat, etc.

10: I have never ever said I was at a 10 despite years of pain and having 3 babies so if I ever say this, someone should get me to the ER quick because I am clearly dying.

What about you?  What’s your pain scale?

Limping Along

Shrink appointment this morning went fine.  No change in dosage.  We talked a bit about situational depression vs clinical depression.  He explained that they look for a couple of things to determine if someone is experiencing clinical depression.  The three main areas: do you have interest in things, do you show interest in socializing, do you have motivation to go out?  If the answer is no, then they look at timing.  He said a few days is no big deal; the cut off for them is two weeks.  Two weeks of not have interest and not wanting to go out because you’re sad or feel like it’s not worth it means that you may be clinically depressed and may be helped by medication.

He said for me it seems like I am just adjusting to my new reality and things are as they should be.  I suspected that would be the verdict, so it was no surprise.  And frankly I am glad not to be changing yet another medication.

He also asked if the pain was manageable.  And I said more or less, with medication.  He said that his view of manageable pain (and I think his understanding of the medical view of manageable pain) is that if you’re limping along then it’s manageable.  I found it interesting that he used the word limping.  So often, we with chronic pain, think of our old lives when we walked normally, but the truth is our new standards are different.  I was reading something earlier (I wish I could remember where!) that said people with chronic pain have a different scale.  A four pain level is our new zero.  I have found this to be true.  A good day is no longer a pain free one, but one that is tolerable without much pain medication.  So yeah, manageable pain is when we are limping along.

On another front, third dose of MTX is behind me.  This week I have now added the dreaded nausea to the fatigue.  Frankly, I feel pretty awful all around.  Tired, nauseous, achy.  Etc.  Really looking forward to the side effects of this med being behind me.  Or manageable!

 

Failure

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with my best friend, L. L and I share many symptoms, though she has been dealing with her chronic illness much longer than I have.  She’s also been cursed with a long diagnostic process which isn’t quite ended yet, while my road has been a whole lot smoother.  Besides those differences, though, our illnesses are often pretty similar, as are our attitudes toward being sick.

Yesterday we were talking about a potential plan for me to return to work part-time soon.  I’m very happy about the idea of going back to work part time; frankly I am bored out of my mind, at home everyday.  Plus, I enjoy my work most days, and I miss my co-workers and the volunteers I interacted with on a regular basis.  So I’m looking forward to being able to work again.  That said, I am pretty worried about going back because I am not sure what I am capable of doing physically. How many days will I be able to work? How many hours per day?  Will the commute be too much?  Will the stress make me worse?  Is the walk to and from the bathroom going to be too challenging on bad days?  There are so many questions running through my mind that it makes me want to just say I can’t go back.

But L. very correctly pointed out that one of the rough things about being chronically ill is that we must set ourselves up for failure on a regular basis.  The truth of the matter is I may not be able to work as much as we are planning; I may not be able to handle the drive.  But I have to try.  And I have to realize that I may fail.

Anytime we, as the chronically ill, make a commitment, we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Oh sure, we will not always fail.  But we must be prepared everytime for the “what if” to happen.  I want to take the kids to a movie this weekend, but I may not be able to do it.  I have an appointment tomorrow morning, but I may not be able to drive.  Not knowing if I can follow through on my commitments is so hard for me, but it is impossible to go through life refusing to commit to anything.

So we must accept that sometimes we will fail.  Sometimes we will disappoint our friends and family.  Sometimes we will look foolish or inconsiderate.  Sometimes we will seem selfish and rude.  But we can’t live by what others think of us, by what others expect of us.  We can’t live by the rules others set.

Instead we must be true to our bodies and to ourselves.  It is good to make plans, but it is also good to break those plans if we need to.  It is so unhealthy for us to force ourselves to fulfill obligations that we physically shouldn’t.  It is unhealthy for us to ignore the warning signals our bodies send to us.

So, we must make ourselves aware that failure is an option.  It is ok to try and fail.

To make this easier, we must communicate with our friends and family, our co-workers, that when we make plans we will try our best to keep them, but that we may have to cancel.   If we are honest with people about our abilities, and honest with them that we will do our best, then it is much easier to fail.  Oh sure, it will never be easy.  But it is easier if we don’t feel like we are constantly surprising people with disappointing news.

Of course, this is all easier said than done.  I don’t want to fail.  I want to know when I make plans that I can keep them.  I want to be dependable, reliable, as I always have been.  Now, I have to be content with trying my best.  Now, I have to put myself first, another hard thing to do.  Now I know that I have to learn to fail.  And I have to set myself up for that failure, over and over again.  To do otherwise would mean never really living, and that’s just not an option.

Depression and Anxiety Common in Arthritis Patients- Of Course!

Even before I read this article on MedPage this morning, I had been thinking a lot about depression and anxiety in my own life.  It makes sense that they would be pretty common in people with chronic illness.  To sum up the article, people with arthritis are likely to have depression issues, but they are even more likely to be dealing with anxiety.

If you think about the life of the chronically ill- the ups and downs, the unknowns- it is not at all surprising that this would be true.  Our health is a constant question mark; our lives hinge almost completely on that question mark.  Of course, we’re anxious!  Of course, we’re depressed!

I have been dealing with depression for years and years.  For the last five years I have been treated (successfully) for depression.  I see my p-doc every six months for a med check.  At this point I have been on the same med, at the same dose, for about two years.  I see him on Thursday, and I have been thinking a lot about that visit.  He asks me standard screening questions every visit, and every visit my answers are the same.  But this time, I think the whole conversation will be changed because of my other recent diagnoses.

Do you find yourself taking enjoyment in things?  Um, not really.

Are you having feelings of sadness?  Yep.

Do you have motivation to do things?  Um, no.

Are you sleeping? Ha!

Have you had many episodes of crying?  Well….

Yeah, it’s going to be a totally different visit.  And I’m curious about how it will go.  Because what I know is that I have been dealing with situational depression.  IE my situation is making me depressed.  For people with depressive disorder, it is often not a situation that causes it, but it is that depression is like a cloud that constantly hovers.  We can’t control it.  Even when life is fine and good, we may have the cloud hanging around.  Meds take the cloud away for me.  But that doesn’t make me immune (obviously) from situational depression.  But I have been wondering about this.  Have I been more upset than I should be about everything because my meds are no longer at their peak?  Do my other meds lessen the effectiveness of my anti-depressant?  Would it be helpful to increase my dose to help me through this period and then bring it back down in a few months?

Things are doubly complicated in that depression often is part of fibromaylgia.  So does that mean, my treatment should be different, should be the “standard” fibro/depression treatment (assuming there is one)?  Or does it mean we have one more thing to take into account in our semi-annual meetings?

As with most things, we shall see!  I’ll let you all know how it goes on Thursday.

 

 

Health Care System= Not Good for the Chronically Ill

We, the chronically ill, have many, many health problems.  A cold is not just a cold.  The flu is dangerous.  We must see specialists often.  We need many medications, which are often very expensive.  So, generally we are a pain in the ass for the health care system.

I think, though, we would be less a pain in the ass if we were able to get the care we need in a more efficient, and less complicated, manner.  Case in point: I need to start physical therapy. So, after asking doctor for written referral, I looked online to see which physical therapists accept my insurance.  Friday, I called, made an appointment and was told that their benefits person would check my coverage and call me back to explain what the coverage was.  That was all fine.

Got a call this morning from benefits person.  They no longer accept my insurance.  Ok then.  So, I call the insurance company to get a list of physical therapists in my area.

There were two.

Tried to look both up online to compare; no website for either of them, though one is associated with a very nice skilled nursing center.  I pick one and call the number given to me.  They no longer have a physical therapist at their location.

Which brings me down to one choice, the one housed with the senior home.  I call them.  She very nicely said maybe they could help but they have been having problems lately getting authorization from my insurance company because “we are listed wrong in their system.”

So I am down to maybe hopefully one?

Here’s the thing: I NEED physical therapy.  I would assume everyone involved would like me to be able to function, to work, to do the things I need to do.  Because then I am healthier and less costly to the health care system. Right?

Except I am having to scramble to find someone to help me.  And how often do I hear stories of others with chronic illnesses who must fight for drug coverage or must fight to see a specialist or who must jump through hoops to get the necessary care.  It’s insane.

Because here’s the truth of it: this fight to get health care, to get our bodies even just a little better, this fight makes us sicker. The stress and the worry and the energy we have to spend on the phone with insurance companies and doctors and pharmacies- all of that adds up to a drain our weakened bodies.

So yeah, the problem with the way our health care system is set up right now is that it makes us sicker.  Instead of doing its job, which is to make us well.

Hopefully I will get good news about the PT.  Otherwise, more fighting for me.

A Bad Day

Yesterday I had a no good, very bad day.

When you have a chronic illness, you get used to a sort of baseline of pain.  It’s like you figure out what your “normal” state is.  This normal state is your typical level of swelling and fatigue; your typical level of joint pain and stiffness, of general body pain; your typical level of inability.  People without chronic illness may not understand this, or may only think they do, but those of us who have some wonderful disease, know what this means.

Yesterday wasn’t normal.  I think yesterday may have actually been my first really bad day since I began the many medications I am taking.  Oh, I have had some bad days, some slightly worse than normal days.   But I had not had a very bad day yet.

I would like to never have another, honestly.

If I list today all the things that made yesterday suck, I don’t think it would effectively capture it, mostly because it wasn’t just the things that happened, it was the accumulation of those things that were too much.  I could barely move; I was exhausted; my swelling was much worse than normal; my mystery abdominal pain returned; my pain was so bad I was nauseous.  Add in: everyone in the house was upset or tense, doubling my tension; I burnt myself and cut myself while helping cook dinner; I had a total sobbing breakdown at one point because it was all too much.  It really was all too much.

Is this what I have to look forward to: normal bad days broken up by the really horrible ones?  I really hope not.

I can hearing this piece of a song in a head.  I think it’s from (of all things) the old Rudolph cartoon, tho it may be another of those badly animated Christmas specials.  The characters are singing “You put one foot in front of the other.”  And that’s what I have to do, even if those feet are slow and swollen.  Put one in front of the other and hope for the best.  After all, they can’t all be very bad day days.

 

It’s the Little Things

It’s the little things, taken together, that add up to a whole different life.  Looking at my day there are so many little things that are different, so many little things that I have to do differently, because of my illnesses.  So many little ways I must be different.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do, sometimes before I open my eyes, is move my fingers and toes.  I am checking to see how stiff and swollen they are.  After that, I take a few minutes, giving myself a mental pep-talk.

After I get up, I go into the kitchen to get myself breakfast right away.  I can’t take half of my meds until I eat, so hungry or not (usually not), I need to eat.  I have yet to find a breakfast food I consistently enjoy.  Mostly I resent breakfast.

At breakfast, I take 8 1/2 pills.

On Friday mornings, I add in the need to refill my pill container.  I can no longer trust myself to remember which meds I have taken each day, so I have a weekly pill holder that is divided into four slots each day.  So Friday morning,  I fill all the slots with the appropriate pills.  Today I realized my medication list wasn’t up-to-date so I updated it and reprinted the list.

After breakfast I chill.  I wait for my body to warm up.  That’s how I like to think of it, like a car that needs to be warmed up before it can go anywhere without alot of noise and resistance.  So I sit and warm up.  Then I take kids to school.  In my pajamas.  I realize this is bad.  I realize I should brush my hair and get dressed.  But I just can’t do it.

When I get home from that, I warm up some more.  I also pace my house as “exercise” so my back can get loosened up.  Somewhere between 9-10, I do my back stretches on the living room floor.

My day is typically split in parts: pacing house, resting, stretching.  Usually somewhere around lunch I find motivation for a shower.  It is generally an hour after my shower before I find additional motivation to dry my hair.  The last few weeks, drying my hair is an adventure: I am waiting to see if my hair starts to fall out.  So far, no more than usual.

I pick up oldest from school at 2:30.  This is also an adventure.  Driving is difficult, painful.  Nerve-wracking.  Somehow it seems that there are too many things happening.  I get over-stimulated.  I forget which gear I should be in sometimes.  I have to really focus on what I am doing.  I find myself excessively speeding without realizing it.

I generally don’t do the dishes- my one consistent household chore- until around four.  Most days I do okay with this, and for sure my hands love the hot water, but there are days that I can’t seem to do a good job.  Those days Bill and Riley point out the still-dirty dishes.  Those days I feel deeply ashamed that I am no longer capable of that simple task.

Some days I make dinner.  Some days I don’t mess up dinner.  Those are the good days.

At dinner, I take another six pills.  Except Wednesday.  Wednesday I take six at dinner and four more a couple hours later.

Most days, somewhere among my little bit of driving or my rare errand, I have to take pain medication.  The prescription kind.  No more tylenol for me!  No sir.  I was really bothered by this at first and put it off as long as possible, until the pain was debilitating.  Then I realized that was dumb.  If I can take medication when the pain first starts, then I can head it off.  So now, I am a more frequent user of Tramadol.  Life is easier that way.

Some other little things that are different about my days these days:

I spend a lot of time thinking about my health, my body, my symptoms, my medications, etc. Every new pain must be analyzed: is it fibro? RA? A new things altogether?

I move my toes and fingers deliberately, checking for new problems, checking to make sure they still move

I am constantly aware of how much pain I am in, of what my day needs to look like based on that pain

I try to wear a bra as rarely as possible, because they are just too uncomfortable

I wear long sleeves, and sometimes a sweater too, almost always even though it is around 70 in my house, and sometimes outside as well.  I am just cold all the time.

I am foggy in the brain.  Forgetful. I use the wrong words for things.  I can’t remember what I am doing, where I put things five seconds earlier.  Unfortunately, I am not foggy about being foggy.  I always know that I am foggy, that I am forgetful.  That my brain no longer operates the way it should.

 

It is all the little things that add up together to exhaust me, to make me sad and mad and frustrated.  These things will become routine soon; these things will no longer seem extraordinary to me soon, but will be part of the new normal.  Until then, it is all the little things that constantly remind me of the life I lost, and the new one I must get used to, so I can move on. Accept.  Thrive.  Until then, I will take it one little thing at a time.

 

 

MTX: Week Two and Other Tid-Bits

Day after second dose of Methotrexate.  Again horrible fatigue, that I am just starting to almost see the end of.  Only other thing of note is the horrible metallic taste in my mouth.  Which definitely is better than nausea.  The only thing particularly annoying about the metal taste, is that combined with my usual dry mouth, I pretty much want to be drinking water constantly.  But whatever. Could be worse.

While I was in bed this morning (because I couldn’t be anywhere else), I started How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard (which I heard about on Butyoudontlooksick.com).  So far I really like it.  I’m not particularly spiritual, so some of the Buddhism stuff is not my cup of tea, but at the same time, alot of what she says really resonates.  And so, far, all of her suggested practices can be easily used by anyone, regardless of their spiritual beliefs.  I’ll post an actual review when I finish it.

In other news (that is, for once, not at all about my being sick), my oldest kid is going to prom this weekend.  CRAZY!  His school is small, so prom is open to all grades, which makes it slightly less odd to have a child old enough to go to prom.  It’s more like a super fancy dance, with us dropping them off and picking them up, etc.  But still.  I’ll be watching him dress up in a tux on Saturday and trying not to cry!

And that’s all I’ve got for today.  Hands hurt too much to attempt anything profound.  Very glad, though, to have gotten through dose 2 without any serious badness.

Wishing you all a great end  to your week!

Really Easy is Really Hard

Let me just say this first: there was a time, years back, when I was in good shape.  I exercised regularly.  I was never skinny because I’m not built that way, but I was in pretty good shape physically.  But the key point here is I could do med-hard exercise without much issue.  The past few years I have gained a lot of weight, for one reason or another.  I am no longer in good shape.  I know it.  But up until the last year, I could still walk a mile (for example) without a problem. I could still move my out of shape body.

But now, here we are.  It’s all difficult.  Walking.  Exercising.  All of it.  Part of that is being over-weight, but a big chunk (more than I knew actually) is the fibro/RA taking their toll on me.

All of that said, I know I have to exercise.  I need to lose some weight, but more than that I have to keep moving so I can try to keep the fibro and the RA under control.  Mostly I have just been walking the dog with Bill, but I have also started adding in some arthritis exercise dvd’s, some light yoga, lots of stretching.  I also decided to start taking a “gentle” water exercise class once a week.  It is not an arthritis foundation approved class, but it’s in the same vein, I think.

Anyway, yesterday was my first class.  I got there early, and checked in at the front desk.  I wasn’t sure if I needed to sign in or anything, and I had missed the first class, so I asked if there was anything I needed to do.  When I told her what class I was taking, she laughed and said “Oh, that class is easy.  Really easy.  You can just go in.”

Really easy.

After braving the locker room (how I hate them), I went to the pool, where everyone was at least 30 years older than me.  Including the instructor.  Most of the ladies were also overweight like me.  They were all incredibly nice to me, including the instructor who gave me lots of direction.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t really easy.  Oh, it should have been.  With my past exercise knowledge, I know it really is an “easy” class.  Besides being in the water, which helps, all of the moves are pretty simple, and there is nothing overly demanding involved.

And yet, I wanted to stop after about eight minutes (yes, I looked at the clock).  It was hard.  Very hard.  Not only that, but it was exhausting.  I came home and wanted to go straight to bed.

So, I have to ask: is this my life?  That taking the easy class with the 70 year old instructor is going to kick my ass?  That my 35 year old body is actually less able to do things than someone’s twice my age?   Is this what I have to look forward to?

Does it get better?

I guess we’ll see (there’s that we’ll see again).  Maybe with all the meds, and with physical therapy, and with acupuncture, and with regular walking, and with my once a week water class, and with all the other things I am doing, maybe with all of those things my body will be less broken.  Will be more functional.

Maybe.