I am not a huge Rosie O'Donnell fan but I don't dislike her so when she was on Oprah a week or so ago I tuned in with half an ear. At one point, Oprah asked Rosie what she had been doing for the last few years and Rosie said "Planning the second half of my life." That caught my attention. In fact, I had to rewind and listen again. It seems Rosie lost her mother when her mother was in her 40's and therefore, Rosie always expected to die at the same age. When she didn't- it caught her off guard and she wasn't sure what to do. She had always planned her life but had never thought beyond that point. That resonated with me and since I wasn't sure why (I still have my mom, thank goodness, so I could not relate to the whole story) I kind of tucked it into the back of my mind and didn't think much about it again. Well- last night, while showering, it was like a ninja bomb (thanks Dane Cook for that term-lol) went off in my head. I got it. It came to me in a flash that I relate to that turn of a phrase because it is very much like my diagnosis with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I sincerely doubt that any of us planned for having Rheumatoid Arthritis invade our lives. When we were children we didn't sit there and dream "I am going to be a writer (lawyer, actress, comedian, fire fighter, cowboy, ballerina- chose your dream) and will live in a big house and wear fabulous clothes and have a disabling autoimmune disorder." I know that I didn't. When my diagnosis came- all my plans for my life came to a halt. Rather than doing all of the things I had planned; I was thrown into a life of finding what works for pain management, of trying to keep my immune system from revolting as I pumped it full of drugs designed to stop it from doing what it was doing, of raising awareness and learning to live with all of the other things that come with a disease with no cure.
Having a diagnosis of RA and Fibromyalgia on top of it (no one ever claimed I do things in half measures) was for me and many like me, the end of my life as I had known it. I was 38 years old and falling apart and that was NOT what I had planned. What I didn't think about, until I saw the Rosie & Oprah interview, was that it was a new beginning as well. If I look at it from this vantage point I can see that it truely was the beginning of the second half of my life. What I didn't think about was that I have been going through this journey a day at a time with no plan. I had avoided thinking about the future because I was afraid of the unknown and RA is the epitome of the unknown. Not knowing how I will feel and how my body will behave one day to the next has kept me in a sort of mental paralysis. But no more. I am inspired by those words in a way that Rosie will never know.
So the next fork in my road is to work on a plan. I have (hopefully) another 42 years in front of me. I have many things to look forward to that RA will never touch and I know, after four and a half years of living with this, where my limits are and what I can do. I can make a new plan for my life and work WITH my disease(s) and not against it. I don't have to let it stop me or hold me hostage any longer. More importantly, if I make my plan and my health goes south a bit, I can rework my map to accomodate the detour. It won't be easy to visualize my future but in the end the goals and dreams can be achieved if I find a way to keep them in sight while still living in the present.
So how about you? What is YOUR plan for the second half of your life?