There used to be an old riddle that evoked a whole lot of different meaning and responses. It is simply this, “Which came first? The Chicken or the Egg?”
Everyone has heard this said to them at least oncee in their lives, and depending on who you are and what you think, it can provoke a myriad of replies. For example if you are a Christian you might say that God created the Chicken in his infinite wisdom. If you are an evolutionist you might say that there was primordial slime came first, and then billions of years later the Chicken finally evolved as we know it to today… and so on.
Some might think this is one of the ultimate riddles but if you live long enough, and if you are particularly unlucky, you get some really awful riddles handed to you; and the consequences are truly breathtakingly awful.
The life of the Autoimmune patient is virtually riddled with riddles (excuse the language). You may have start your ‘journey’ with a puzzling list of symptoms ranging from general fatigue, aches, pain, numbness, failing vision, sore throat etc All of which could be attributed to almost anything in the Greys journal of anatomy and medical wisdom. So you might have even been diagnosed with a raft of different things. After you have amassed a bed side table which is overflowing with medications you start doubting that you have solved the riddle after all. A few years later you find your list has added a few more entries and they may become more serious, more painful and even more stranger. My current list would make a phone directory blush.
After finally being told that I have at least one Autoimmune disease, possibly more, the relief is short lived when I discovered that currently, despite being around for centuries, there are no cures for any Autoimmune diseases and the treatment protocol is archaic at best. Low dose Chemotherapy, Immune suppressing drugs, Steriods, infusions, all of which carry a degree of risk and an even higher degree of awful side effects. The type of side effects that are not just annoying or inconveniencing, but are life sapping and make you want to beg for death.
The internet is overflowing with the pain and suffering around the world from Autoimmunes who can find no relief for their symptoms or solace for their emotional torment. Which then begs the question “When do we stop therapy and walk away?”
That’s where I am at currently. After years of steroids that have changed my weight, my skin, my bones, my hair, my emotions to Chemotherapy drugs that have made me lose hair, grow horrid mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, chills etc. I am no closer to the woman I was prior to starting this journey and much closer to the end of my last straw then I ever dreamed possible. I have bled, bruised, cried, ached, begged and lost so much life that I don’t even remember the woman I was before these diseases came into my life. Riddles, I have collected about a billion. Answers none.
So when do we finally decide to hand in our chips, accept a losing hand and cash out? I played a hard game, spun the wheel, played some long odds and lost the farm. What next?
Haven’t I paid enough? I have lost my career, my friends, my mobility, my functionality, my reliability and a large part of my identity. I think I have run a good race and fought a tough fight. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
There are people who are always going to say “She didn’t want it bad enough”, “She didn’t try hard enough”, “She wasn’t mentally or emotionally strong enough”, “She could have been cured if she wanted it enough”. I used to worry about what people would think and say but not anymore. Its easy to judge, much harder to get into the ring and fight. The only persons opinion that I still really care about is mine and my darling husband’s. I look at him and I ask myself “how much more can I possibly take…” and that my friends, is the hardest riddle of all.