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I ache for myself. The pain courses through every vein. Self-pity becomes even darker when nothing can be done to fix the problem. I feel opportunities and moments slipping through my hands. All the wonderful moments and chances I could have had disappear like wisps of breath on a cold night. And the hardest thing is that nothing can stop it coming. I struggle thinking about my future of being in a wheelchair, some unknown person by my side being paid to help me with everything I used to be able to do with ease and a sense of panache.

I have always treasured each movement my body allowed me to do. But it wasn’t enough. Those small amounts of moments are not enough in my lifetime that is stretched out before me, tinted with darkness and the sound of tears hitting my pillow. I beg, scream and sob for more time, for just a few more moments or hours of mobility and spurts of joy, but nothing comes to save me. Nothing answers my call. My family are near but I still feel alone.

Naturally optimistic, my positive smile can no longer lift me up. Sinking slowly and agonizingly fast at the same time, I try to quickly accept my new lot in life, but the weight is so much harder than I ever would have thought. Not being understood even by those who wish to automatically cracks a quick divide between us, widening with each new daily task I no longer can do. My body refuses to accomplish the simple movements I ask of it. Rivers of tears easily turn to oceans at the blink of an eye.

My simple dreams for my future seem further away than they have ever been, with no light for me to reach towards a brighter life. All I wanted was my own little house. I even have a replica of my dream house, made when I was in pain but still fresh enough to it to handle it with gusto, pushing it to the back of my mind as an unpleasant thought. The beautiful three-story house collects dust up in my closet, still waiting to be brought to life.

However, I still hold onto a sliver of hope. I have had my aspirations and anticipations cruelly dashed over and over too many times to count. So I hold that sliver of hope close to my chest, never letting it show in fear the universe will see it and conspire against me once more. There it stays, tucked in close, keeping me warm from my pain-filled, tortured soul. “Never give up hope,” my bright burning dream-life warns through the fog of despair. “You might just get that happily-ever-after in the end.” Even if it is only a piece of joy instead of the buffet of happiness I crave, I know I will savor every little bit that someone with different trials might not.

I hold fast to that speck of courage. Because hope is just courage. Courage to fight another day. Courage to smile in the face of your struggles. Courage to reach out even as arthritis overtakes you. Courage to not settle even when everything else, even your own body is telling you to quit.

But no real hero gives up.

And if I am going to be known for one thing, it is that I am a hero. Just call me Courage.

Image credit: "Utah Rising." by Ryan Hallock is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Finding Courage on Dark Days in My Life With Arthritis: List
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