Before doing my first methotrexate injection, I researched the medicine on every site I could find. Most people reported severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, extreme fatigue, upset stomach, body aches…pretty much my typical day. So, while most people would’ve been very concerned about the potential side effects and possibly frightened into using a different medicine, I shrugged my shoulders and said “cool, no worse than I already experience.” See, that is my attitude about treatment options these days. I will now try pretty much all treatment options because the “what ifs” don’t scare me, and not trying costs me too much.
When I began the journey into treating my crohn’s just four short years ago, my approach was all wrong. I went to doctor after doctor, begging them to make me like I was before when it became apparent that they couldn’t “fix me”. At that point in time, I had recently lost 15lbs, began experiencing rectal bleeding, daily migraines, insomnia, and sharp stabbing pains in my lower abdomen. As I type this I get sad, because looking back I realize what I was asking. Since I was 7 years old, I have experienced extreme fatigue, bleeding and violent stomach pains after eating certain foods, mouth sores and skin lesions, insomnia, severe bone pain, and migraines. So why on earth would I beg a doctor to return me back to that? Because I was afraid, despite my brave looking exterior. While the symptoms I had experienced since age 7 were horrible, they were familiar. The doctor’s attempts to introduce medicine after diagnosing my ailments, introduced unknown side effects and potential problems. Crazy right? I am amazed and saddened thinking back on how fear of the unknown made me content with the status quo and afraid to explore getting better.
Fortunately, it is very difficult to be afraid when you have a little person calling you mommy. Shortly after the birth of my first child, everything changed. The status quo was no longer acceptable. It didn’t give me the energy I needed to play with my daughter, and I worried it wouldn’t give me the life expectancy I wanted to be around for her. It was then that I made my two treatment goals: (1) to remain on this side of the dirt; and (2) to have my symptoms remain the same or be better than they were the previous day without any new symptoms.
I am now two days post methotrexate injection, and gotta say that I am doing ok. I anticipated experiencing several side effects following the injection, but am happy to report I have not. I woke up this morning with the same swollen joints, the same stomach pains, the same level of fatigue, and nauseous. In my book, this is a win! When you have experienced the type of pain that I have, for as long as I have, you learn to set the bar low and celebrate small victories. If you don’t, you will become angry and bitter. I decided a few years ago that bitterness doesn’t look good on me…and quite frankly takes up energy that I don’t have to give.
So, I celebrated this Sunday morning. When my alarm went off at 8am, I rolled onto my back and looked up at my ceiling fan. I listened to the hum of the fan, the birds chirping outside my window, my daughters laughing at my husband singing, and saw the sun beaming down onto my bed. I celebrated every sound I heard, every breath I took, and every ache I felt because they all meant I was still on the right side of the dirt. This is not to say that I don’t wish for a cure, because I do with everything in me. But, I am at a place in life that even if a cure or healing never comes, I am ok as long as my two treatment goals are met. Every day that I can hear the two tiny voices in my house yell “mommy” or give a belly chuckle, or feel the sun on my face and the wind against my back, or feel my husband’s skin against mine, is another day that I am on the right side of the dirt and therefore a great day!
My favorite song in the world is Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger, may you never take one single breath for granted, God forbid love ever leave you empty handed, I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, whenever one door closes I hope one more opens, promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance….” I plan to dance…and have to be on this side of the dirt to do it!