“Now that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger…”
About 3 months ago, I went to cheer on one of my best friends as she gave a lecture to University of Pennsylvania medical students on her experiences and battle with Cushing’s Disease, a rare disease in which your body produces too much cortisol. It’s like being on a gajillion (like that medical terminology?) milligrams of prednisone each day. This is actually her second go-round with the disease, requiring (her second) brain surgery and a bilateral adrenalectomy just weeks apart. I’m so proud of her and I truly admire her strength. As she (re)started her battle with cushing’s, I was beginning my never ending lupus flare, and I’d like to think we’ve really been rocks for each other through this time.
After her kick-ass talk, we went to grab some lunch. We gab about our health issues a lot, and she was telling me about one of the medical discussion boards she goes on. Someone wrote a post on the injustice of receiving more than one life-altering diagnosis in ones lifetime. This really got me thinking.
24 30 31years old. By the time I was 6, I had already had four open-heart surgeries, knowing there would eventually be more in my future. Sounds like my fair share, right?
At 26 I was diagnosed with lupus and a few other autoimmune diseases, and at 27 diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Though it appears I clearly drew the short straw in the family gene pool, I’ve never been the “WHY ME?!? MY LIFE IS AWFUL!!! WOE IS ME!” type. I have the impression that if anything, it’s made me stronger. Cue the Kelly Clarkson!
I hate to admit this, but I actually get extremely frustrated and have no patience for the “woe is me” types. How is that mindset going to help you? More and more I find myself getting disheartened and bitter with what some people perceive as “problems,” when they post on their Facebook. It takes A LOT of willpower not to reply with something snarky. I know everyone has their own stuff going on, and what each person regards as a problem is completely different from the next. But, I figure if you have the means to pay for your cell phone/internet service that allows you to complain on Facebook, things can’t be all that bad. And if they are, get off Facebook and deal with your shit.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Randy Pausch, author of “The Last Lecture,” which is hands down, one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read.
“Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.”
Saying that, of course I have my moments. I get depressed, anxious, angry, scared, sad, I freak out just as much as the next person. I’ve been dealt some pretty heavy cards in my 31 years, how could I not? I just don’t let it rule my life. If anything, I make jokes about it. “Hey, that Marla is dealing with some tough shit and can still make everyone laugh.” It’s my coping mechanism.
Lupus is some scary stuff. There’s no cure and there are very few approved treatments. It’s completely unpredictable. I know that any morning I could wake up and not be able to walk, or be in kidney failure, or have a seizure. Do those thoughts consume my day? No, I don’t allow them to. Yes, occasionally they do nag a bit in the back of my mind, but I will never let them lead my life….