name the pain… meet gertrude.

gertude seems to be ever evolving. if i’m being perfectly honest this is a stretch for me. but it has helped me probably more than anything thus far, on this journey of sorting through my health. so essentially i was not (and still do not at times) separate my disease and from who I am as a person. let me give a daily example, 4 pm rolls around my body starts shutting down, i feel ache, without energy, my patients are toasts, I can’t make my family dinner or spend the evening with them, I am in bed as soon as my hubby walks through the door… therefore, I am inadequate as a mom & wife. this directly equates to who JENA is…

the truth is i can’t get rid of the RA or any of the other diseases but it is essential i learn to manage them. and honestly i thought i had been doing that, i had been trying to eat healthy & exercise, find the best medicine combinations… all the while, if i had a major flare up i’d beat myself up with it and tell myself how inadequate i was… helpful right?! No! if this was a friend of mine telling herself these things i would immediately caution her to be more kind to herself. that it had nothing to do with her adequacy or worth.

so really by giving my disease a name it immediately separated it from me. let me give you another example… my husband calls, Hey how are you? How’s the day? “Good. Ry got off to school, and B and I are just playing.” How’s Gertrude behaving today? “You know not too bad so far, but she did keep me up quite a bit last night, so I am assuming I will need a nap this afternoon when B goes down”…. This is two fold first for me, i felt ignoring it i.e. gerty would lessen the effect, this is actually false, you just suffer in silence. but I didn’t know that at the time so i would not have brought it up. the second awesome part, just by naming it gave adam the language to ask specifically about how my pain was and get a direct answer.

if every time i was asked how i was & gave a full life synopsis including a full health update not only would i be exhausted but i think most people would run away. simply by naming my disease, the ease of language around the topic has increase dramatically for my family & close friend. when i am already at my end to just say sorry i have to skip out Gerty is raring her ugly head. and my love ones to know and respect in order to manage her i must honor my body. can i tell you what a relief that is.

IMG_6390and i think the cherry on the top is the language even been easy enough for us to introduce to our 5-year old. now this little girl has the gift of empathy (mom brag moment), quiet possibly one of the silver linings of all this (i plan to write a blog on this in the future). explaining mom is sick and no you can’t catch it (we had to cover that early on;) and you really can’t see it. but then when we gave it a name and assigned behaviors that she could relate to, & she knew what mommy’s body was doing on that given day, it made her world so much more clear. and my mommy guilt began to lift. the kids even made me a door hang. ‘gertrude good’ on the frontside & ‘gertrude bad’ on the backside so when they came to my door and saw it shut with ‘gertrude bad’ they would understand mommy needed her rest.

IMG_6392so yes the first step was understanding the need to name the disease and coming up with an actual name but maybe even more important… and also where it was more of a stretch i needed to identify her purpose, what she looked like, and how she gained power.

  1. purpose: advocate for disease, steal joy & normalcy
  2. looks: overweight, unkept, butch chick
  3. gains power: by pushing boundaries, physically over doing it

this makes it easier to identify her and her strategies and not fall into the trap. these are all steps in managing gertrude… now accepting her is another battle for another day… read more here.

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