My girlfriend and I were led through blackness by a man who lived his life in the dark – he was our blind waiter, and this was our first dining in the dark experience. He sat us at our table, and I warily moved my hands across the woven tablecloth, vaguely aware of the icy touch of the metallic cutlery nipping against my skin, the cold caress of porcelain plates, and the moist curved shape of a water-glass. The server’s assertive voice trickled into my ear as he took my hand, and wrapped my fingers around the flimsy stem of a wine glass. He helped me find my cutlery and then withdrew, leaving me to manoeuvre through the shadows on my own. My movements were tentative; I was unsure where my hands were in relation to my plate or my glass…would I tip it over? I strained to see, but there was no trace of light, only flashes of color behind my blind eyes. It took about thirty minutes before I allowed myself to explore the darkness without fear. The cautious way I moved was reminiscent of the days when my hands are teeming with the burning touch of old lady RA.
An unexpected diagnosis of arthritis can make you feel like you are stumbling around in the darkness. It’s overwhelming to be thrust into the world of chronic disease and thrown into the labyrinth of statistics, medications and treatment options. At every turn you will encounter obstacles and challenges; it will take some time to uncover the breadcrumbs that will lead you to discovering a new way to reclaim your life. It can be a frustrating journey, but don’t give up – it will take time and patience to adapt to new adjustments. Open yourself to learning all you can about the new intrusion in your life. Empower yourself by asking questions and taking charge; rise to the occasion like lilting bubbles in champagne. Seek support through family, friends and local groups in your area.
Being thrust into the darkness doesn’t mean you are powerless; with perseverance you will find a way to crawl out of the obscurity and navigate your way to luminous possibilities.