So true story, this past weekend I was responsible for a dozen junior high kids for a four-day church camp out (my hubby is a youth pastor). I took handfuls of meds to help me through the various autoimmune symptoms and so I could enjoy the awesome activities, but nothing can be that simple, right?! Inevitably on the homestretch of the trip, just hours before leaving for the drive home, WHAM... swollen bloodshot eyes, swollen neck, hives hives hives, and a terrible pain in my abdomen.
How embarrassing! Now I need my husband’s mom to drive me home separately from everyone else, get his dad to drive my van load of kids home AND to spare them from the horrors that is my face right now. At least we avoided an emergency room visit. Phew.
Time to face facts. These situations are a part of my new normal. I better grow a thicker skin and be able to take the awkward and embarrassing moments. Here are my top five embarrassing autoimmune/unavoidable/cringe-worthy situations. Enjoy!
1. Swelling. Everywhere.
Any small detail I once appreciated about my body has been stretched and mutated by my autoimmune reactions. I tend towards anaphylaxis, which means swelling and skin reactions EVERYWHERE. Being half Japanese, I understand that my eyes would be somewhat slanty, but I’ve had to walk around for up to three days with eyes that looks closer to muppet than human. So much swelling.
2. Doctors like for you to take your clothes off.
Now this sounds a lot naughtier than it should. Since the skin is the largest organ a human has, and my autoimmune reactions severely impact my organs, it’s only natural the doctors would want to examine it. So not only can I not exercise as much as I would like (see last article) now many more individuals get to see my muffin top and cellulite. Yippee.
3. You may poop your pants.
Okay, so this one hasn’t exactly happened to me yet, BUT there have been some close calls. The GI tract is also an enormous organ and is being constantly harassed by the NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). I should also mention this effects your bladder. Whenever I’m experiencing a reaction, I have very little bladder control. I should basically just sit on the toilet, but I’m way too stubborn for that. Early on ― like, we’re talking second or third date with my now husband ― I had to go into all my medical issues in WAY too great of detail because we had to do an emergency bathroom stop. There’s a moment where you have to make a super fast pros and cons list of either explaining how your body sucks and you’re experiencing a very uncomfortable issue OR poop your pants and explain that to your date. Hmm... pros? Cons? Pros? Cons? Oversharing it is.
4. Facial sweating (medication side effects).
Oh yes. It’s just as glamorous as it sounds. Plaquenil was developed as an antimalarial medication, but after discovering the reduction of inflammation, it now is one of the leading treatments of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Plaquenil also gives some users a constant low grade fever (along with the potential of blinding you if on it for too long). This means that whenever you least expect it, you could be chatting with someone new, waiting in line at grocery store, or holding your hubby’s hand during a nice dog walk... BAM, droplets of sweat will start to form all over your face. Ugh. I wonder how many people have thought I’m going through early menopause (I’m only 29). Like I said, glamorous.
5. You have more in common with grandmothers than your peers.
Knitting. Check. Cross-stitch. Check. Mastering a sewing machine. Check. A lot of sitting on the couch and watching criminal shows. CHECK! This is now what your body allows you to do. Once I accepted that fact it was leaps and bounds easier to find the joy of my new normal. I can no longer play team sports or stay out late at the pub (in bed by 9 even though you napped for two hours, check!). BUT I can empathize with those going through tough times and are looking for someone to listen. I can also read every book ever written now. I’m just now realizing life isn’t over. There are still exciting things to look forward to and setting goals isn’t a futile measure. Plus I’ll be lapping those grannies at any crafts we do when I finally join a retirement home. Silver linings.