The 36 Things

For some reason, the other day when I published the blog post about my 3 year arthritis anniversary, I decided to come up with the 36 things I’ve learnt in the 36 months (funny that) since I got ill. It turns out that 36 is quite a big number and I deeply regret sticking with that number. However, it’s been quite therapeutic thinking of them all and I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could up with my top 100 lessons learned. Alas, none of us wish to be bored to death, so 36 it is. What have you learnt? Send me your lessons!

  1. “Sorry the old Rebecca can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead”. You will feel overwhelming grief. I still miss old dead me. Not as much as I used to, but certainly there are a lot of times when I miss the girl I used to be. Not least cos I was younger with far fewer grey hairs, but I miss the ability to just…live. Without having to wonder if I’ll hurt, have enough energy or whatever. I miss the energetic fun girl who used to love going dancing. Go running. Who enjoyed life. Grieve for the old you. It’s ok
  2. You will feel sad. Different to grief. Just a general sadness that takes some getting used to. A sadness that you have to miss out on things you could do before. That life is different now. For me, sadness has always been a part of my life (my Mum insists I was born depressed) but getting sick exacerbated it. The mood-altering drugs have taken me to the opposite extreme though and I no longer feel much. Win some lose some
  3. Painkillers will be your friend and you will find a best friend. For me it’s tramadols. Trammies. Love them little guys
  4. People will annoy you. They’re the same people who will suggest that if you stop drinking milk you’ll be cured. I don’t even really like milk but like Joey in Friends before me, I will drink 6pts in front of you just to prove a point
  5. You will be ok. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But you will
  6. Parts of your body you didn’t even know existed will hurt. Who knew toenails could make you cry. Who knew? I know. I’m telling you. Toenails are evil
  7. You’ll be on first name terms with everyone at your GP surgery, same with dispensers at your local pharmacy. I even got a Christmas card from my favourite nurse and cried my eyes out when I had to change surgeries due to a house move, saying goodbye to Nurse Agnes was tough
  8. When walking with a limp, old people and fellow limpers alike will give you a knowing nod, often accompanied with something like “I’ll race ya”
  9. When going for blood work, you’re so used to it you can pinpoint the exact vein that’ll give the best results
  10. MLM sellers will prowl Instagram incessantly sending you messages saying they have the product to help you get better/make more income. You will want these people to burn
  11. What little patience you already have will wear even thinner
  12. Perspectives on life change. Where once maybe I did what I thought was expected of me, now I do what I want because I want to do it because life is short. Refer to point 11
  13. You’ll find joint supports and bandages all around your house, desk drawers, in your car. But when you need one because your knee is about to fall off? Nowhere to be seen
  14. You will really come to appreciate the good friends in your life. In my experience these good friends are the kind you didn’t expect. People who you kinda only knew suddenly become very dear to you. People who you haven’t seen in a decade provide you with support 24/7
  15. You will really come to resent friends who don’t try to understand what you’re going through. Top tip, you don’t need these people in your life
  16. There’s a lot of people out there with chronic illnesses. I worked with a man with ulcerative colitis for two years before I realised he was on very similar medication to me. When it’s out there in the open, you realise you’re surrounded by spoonies. Like sand in between your toes, we get everywhere
  17. Any fashion ideals you once held about footwear quickly disappear. Function trumps fashion. I even once considered crocs. I went out recently in Uggs and hated myself a little bit because it’s not 2008, I’m no longer a university student in my Canterbury trousers and frankly, they’re fugly. But you know what, DAMN COMFY AND I REGRET NOTHING
  18. Comfy clothes will become your new normal. Jumpers that don’t need to be ironed? Great. Trousers with an elasticated waist that are just pull ups with no fiddly zips or buttons? Sign me up (I actually recently bought 6 pairs of the exact same trousers as described above from tesco because good trousers are hard to find). Wearing trainers to work? Awesome. Every day in my office is now casual Friday for me and I am living for it
  19. Same goes for general appearance. Why no, I haven’t had a shower in 3 days, thanks for noticing. Nothing a good deodorant quite disguise. It’s considered a good day if I brush my hair. Wearing make up? Steady on now
  20. You’ll become a walking pharmacy. I have more painkillers and plasters in my bag than I do money in my account. Always be prepared. I was once at a Stone Roses concert which was wild. A glass got thrown. It hit a girl on the face and there was a gash above her eye. Cries of “Anybody got a plaster?” met with confusion from the spaced out crowd, who’d have plasters at a gig? Step forward Becca. Plasters in all shapes and sizes. You’ll have more medical supplies at your immediate disposal than Dr Quinn
  21. Speaking of gigs, when you go to one at The Hydro (especially the Hydro) you will moan loudly to ANYONE who will listen how all the stairs are not mobility friendly and would it kill them to make it a bit easier to access seats
  22. Fatigue is not the same as feeling tired. You won’t understand this until you’re lying on your bathroom floor having someone else finish brushing your teeth for you because you don’t have the energy to do the job yourself, let alone stand. Same goes for when you’ve had a wee and you need your Mum to come wipe ya bum and rescue you from the toilet seat. Thanks Mum, I owe ya
  23. Following on from this, don’t ever say you’re tired around someone with a kid. Apparently I’m not allowed to be tired, I have no reason. Whereas they are allowed to be tired because children. They also should have used a condom but hey ho. You will get sick and tired of this running battle between yourself and Mums
  24. Cosentyx will give you the absolute worst smelling wind in the world. If this is TMI for you then you should get in the bin. Everyone who injects this wonderful nectar knows what I’m talking about. The people around you will certainly know
  25. Nothing is off limits or counts as taboo when talking about health. If my failing health has taught me anything it’s that conversations about poop lead to unbreakable lifelong friendships
  26. As above. Never be more than a minute away from a toilet in the first few days after your injection. Carry spare pants just in case
  27. Even Gandhi would have punched in the face the person who gives it the whole “I know exactly how you feel, I slept in a weird position last night”. My left ankle once swelled so quickly and severely when I was at work that I had to take a pair of scissors and cut the bottom few inches off of my trousers because they were literally going to burst at the seam. I had to go to hospital and have a great whopping thick needle inserted straight into the joint. But yeah you know, the same as a stiff neck
  28. You’ll start to question your entire existence. No? Just me? What is my purpose? Why am I here? What do I deserve from my life? Who should I be? And other existential problems that will wake you up at 2am in the morning
  29. Radox muscle relax bath salts tell lies
  30. Having arthritis is a great excuse for not holding other people’s babies “Sorry I can’t hold little Lucifer, I don’t have a lot of strength in my arms. I don’t want drop him”
  31. You’ll look back to how ‘fat’ you were at 20 and wish you were that fat again. Cosentyx causes weight gain, no matter what the professionals tell you
  32. Sometimes, you’ll be perfectly normal. Well, as normal as you can be. For me this is equally as hard to come to terms with. I don’t hurt. I have no swelling. I am for all intents and purposes normal. When you’ve just got your head around being sick, you’re faced with another reinvention. The no longer normal but not sick right now version of you
  33. Friendships will be made with people around the world who know exactly what you’re going through. You may never meet this people IRL (do people still use the term IRL? ASL?) but the friendships are real and will last a lifetime
  34. A cold is never just a cold when your immune suppressed. Normal people don’t understand this. But you will. You know it’s the same as catching bubonic plague with a side of Victorian consumption. A cold will make you wish you were dead, aint no amount of lemsips killing that bad boy
  35. You’ll feel guilty the first few times you phone in sick to work but this will pass quickly when you realise your body is thankful
  36. A memory foam mattress and pillow will change your life

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Just your average 30 something trying to bumble her way through life with inflammatory arthritis.

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