Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waiting for the Future

I went to see my fun, friendly, professional rheumatologist today. Great guy. Wears fun, rainbow socks and seems to believe I may actually know something about my health. Crazy idea - that the patient actually knows how they are feeling and might not need a doctor to tell them.

After I got back to work - I was feeling introspective and a little down. I was writing an email (rant) to a colleague about my day and the state of affairs in general when it hit me like a 2X4. I finally figured out why my quarterly visits to the rheumatologist threw me off my game.

I saw my future in the waiting room. All those slow-walking, hunched over, grey haired ladies are a glimpse into my future.That's me in 20, 30, 40 years. That's me!! Sitting right over there fussing about how late the doctor is. That's me over there, with a cane, orthopedic shoes and a shuffle when I walk.That's my body worn down from years of pain and inflammation hunched over in the corner.

My monthly infusion appointments where I have $2,200 of drugs injected into me do not bother me, nor do my follow-up visits to the aptly named Module "O" (for the Orthopedic clinic) at the Ottawa Hospital. The people I see there have old hips and knees, or maybe a sports injury to explain away the younger crowd that sit and wait. They are not 37 year olds with miles in on a pair of shoulder replacements that have absolutely nothing to do with any sport whatsoever. They are faces in the crowd who I can rationalize away in my mind. They do not have arthritis and have nothing to do with me.

At the Arthritis Clinic, there is no escaping. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Just a giant mirror forcing me to face my future, just when my present is getting under control.

I know there are better drugs now, better surgeries and the future is brighter than when I was diagnosed 21 years ago. I may not end up like those sweet little old ladies shuffling around the waiting room. On the other hand, I just might. And that scares me to death.

For a depressing day, I am serving up some melancholy music. Sarah McLachlan singing  "I will remember you". Here's to good drugs and hoping that it's a very, very long time before I become one of those little old ladies in the waiting room.