I had an interesting experience with a med student this week while I was in for one of my frequent clinic visits. He was researching impacts of poor health on individuals and their coping mechanisms, and he asked me a question I had not even really thought about: "how do you handle having medical conditions that are not common for persons your age?" I realized in that moment how often I had heard (from the upward of one hundred doctors and other health care workers I've interacted with over the past few years) that it's very strange to see my kind of spinal disease and arthritis in someone "so young" (I'm 34).
I had to think on the spot as it's not something I really had considered. Of all the things my depression causes me to wallow in, my physical health is rarely something I brood over. My answer appeared to surprise and delight this young man that was interviewing me, and that answer was "these things happen." Maybe it's because I had an injury at work I can point to. Maybe it's because sometimes there is no good answer for these things. I mean, really, it's not entirely unlike asking why kids get cancer. I have never had a point at which I've reflected on why I have such poor health. It's just there, and I can't control that right now. What I can control is how I respond to it. I get the requisite medical attention, and I've been working at losing weight.
I haven't really faced the possibility that I may never work full time again. That I may not be fully independent again. Perhaps if that time comes, I will face it, and I might lose some of my optimism. But, for now, it's "these things happen." And I'll continue to fight it.