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Prepare for the worst, Hope for the best.

As my husband and I finish out my first cycle ttc (trying to conceive), I can’t help but think back on how much I’ve changed since my RA vengeance 9 years ago…wow, has it been that long already??

The year we were engaged (and the year I started this blog) had become my first year on biologic medication. I was on Enbrel and feeling fantastic! Up until that point I had been limping around on crutches and using a wheelchair. I was on medical leave from work and school, but when I started on Enbrel everything changed. All of a sudden I could walk and work again! So when it stopped working it’s magic a month before our wedding, I had high hopes the next drug would be a miracle too. More than high hopes, I was certain I would end up in remission again–like I experienced in my teens.

If I could go back and tell my younger self anything, it would be, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”

The truth is, I didn’t at all prepare for the worst. I was so certain everything would work out perfectly and the next drug would near cure me, I ended up acting out recklessly. Reckless with my finances and reckless with my emotions. Five years after it all went downhill, (and 6 treatments later) I’m still not 100% back to work. The only upside is that I learned my lesson.

Now, six years into marriage and one month into ttc, I can say I am more than preparing for the worst. And the worst that can happen in my mind is miscarriage….I know, I know, grim, Steph, real grim. But after all I’ve been through with less-than-great health, is it really all that surprising that my mind would go there?

Since hubs was the one who taught me that whole, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” bit, I approached him with my heeded warnings of dead babies and such. I was actually so proud of my little statistics research, that I went so far as to say, “So, if I get pregnant, you know, try not to get too excited–because you never know.”

To my surprise, he was appalled at me, and more than a little angry. He couldn’t believe I of all people- the easily excitable one, the hopeful and positive one- would say not to get excited on what should be the happiest and biggest step of our lives. He said I was ruining the process for us….and it took me a few hours to fully get what he meant.

Experiences, good and bad, have the ability to leave marks and change us forever. When I volunteered at a trauma-resolution camp for kids who had endured seriously devastating circumstances, I met a young girl who suffered a medical condition that had left her with PTSD. I know in my heart I was meant to meet C, because I too suffered from PTSD for many years that stemmed from childhood sexual abuse.

I’m proud to say after a lot of help, prayer, and therapy, I no longer have to deal with PTSD, but I still struggle to keep myself from feeling pain deep down in my heart. Especially from pain that hasn’t even happened to me–like losing a child! I’ve learned that there’s a very fine line between preparing for the worst, and being crippled by it. The worst things in life, sickness, disease, and death shouldn’t prevent me from getting excited about the best things this life has to offer. And even when there are no “best things” like babies and weddings–frozen yogurt is definitely something worth getting excited about. Through prayer and my usual “happy Stephanie” attitude (as my husband describes), hopefully I can keep PTSD at bay no matter what happens. In the meantime, let’s find something to get excited about!

Moon Face

What I look like on Prednisone. HAHA!
Moon face’ is a common side effect of a medication called Prednisone- a very effective corticosteroid anti-inflammitory drug commonly used by people with breathing disorders, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and allergic disorders. It is characterized by a swollen, round, often puffy-looking appearance in the cheeks of those who use it, resulting in the name.


Recently my doctor started me back on Prednisone. Half of me was thinking, “Oh great, here we go again and just in time for the holidays too…” but the truth is it does make me feel significantly better. I mean, I know in my head its worth feeling better, but the fact that I’ve looked like a chipmunk in the all the holiday pictures for the last 3 years does bother me a little. 
Often, people will ask me, “What happened to your face?” or “Did you know that your face is really swollen?” and I simply shrug and respond with “Yeahhh I’m aware, it’s the medication.” 
I mean, its hard! Especially when you know its going to be for an extended period of time. You feel self-conscious! It’s like all eyes are on you and you know that they know that something is off about your face, but they don’t know why. Although Arthritis can be classified as an invisible illness there definitely are times when it is very clearly visible and its easy to get depressed about it. 
You don’t feel like yourself and you just want to hide and not go to any of the Christmas dinners or New Year’s parties. I know I’ve felt like that a few times. 
I’ve felt ugly, and I didn’t want to go out or get my picture taken, but after hiding out alone in my room, I realized that that’s no way to live! I can’t waste Christmas time with my family just because I look a little funny. And if someone asks, I just explain it to them and make a joke about how I look like I have acorns stuffed in my cheeks or I ate one too many holiday-themed cookies

It’s ok to to be upset and I’m not saying you have to be happy about it, but sometimes we gotta learn to not take ourselves too seriously or let little things get in the way of us living our lives.
We just gotta say to ourselves, “This too shall pass and I am the cutest chipmunk in existence!” 🙂
That’s one thing that this illness has taught me over and over again…

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
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