I’ve always enjoyed working out since it’s always been” my thing”. Since I got diagnosed at the age of 8 with rheumatoid arthritis exercising and being active has been huge part of my life. I kind of grew up to liking it since I can still remember all those annoying group classes at the rehabilitation center that I hated to be participated in. But like my physio told me then and there “It’s not only good for your health but your mind to try things out of your comfort zone, just for once”. So true.
Now, almost 12 years later, I can still remember those words which my physio told me when I was having my tantrum about going and doing some group pilates class at the age of 10 or 11. With her pushing and the help with everyone else that were “forced” to participate I thank them a lot. I miss them. All of them. Some of you may not know but we had here in Finland one of the leading hospitals for rheumatoid arthritis patients and everyone who had something similar condition. Then the government decided at the spring 2010 that it won’t finance the rehabilitation patients in there and it wanted to publicly ask for bids for providing some service from any other rehabilitation center.
I’ve never felt so lost than I felt then. I felt like I was being abandon – being able to go there almost 10 years to same doctor to same physio and have same people taking care of me was so easy! They knew me as a person not as a name on the paper. I remember how I woke up one morning to leave to breakfast and my doctor came across me the hallway with her coffee cup in other hand and papers on the other and she greeted me “Good morning girl! Did you sleep well?” I mean how many places does that really happen, IN HOSPITAL?! It never felt like hospital to me. I spend so much time there that it literally became like my second home. I had the same nurse almost every time I went there and we talked about our lives not only me and my illness.
Not to mention all the friends I’ve made there and I saw regular basis on there since they came from there all around Finland.
The doctor that I had there was the best. She never told me I couldn’t do something. When I expressed that I wanted to try to be a firefighter everyone – including my mom and dad – were horrified and tried to talk me out of it. When we sat down with my doc she looked me in the eyes and said “Kat, I don’t ever wanna tell you that you can’t do something. You can do anything you want, but hope you understand why everyone is so concerned about your dream?” I nodded shyly when she talk to my parents and then she looked at me again and I saw how her eyes were tearing up. “I don’t want to crush anyone dreams and especially not yours. You’re now in excellent condition and if you want I’ll write you that kind of papers that after that it’s up to you if you get in.”
Those words are still very clear in my mind after so many years. How she almost started crying and emphasized how she never wanted to tell me not to try. She truly cared about me but also knew that then and there I could have been able to try and maybe succeed. And that she would have gave me her full support. I didn’t get it then but now when I think of it it makes me feel like I wanna cry – she believed in me when no one else did. And I would need that kind of support still.
The last week just before they went down I was there for a week. The last Thursday that my nurse was on her shift since she had Friday off was awful. When she came to me at the hallway I knew it was the goodbye time – and I totally broke down. Even before she reached out to me to hug me I was already crying and saying “This ain’t fair”. It wasn’t. It still ain’t. So many things were left to say.
I never got to thank my physiotherapist there, since she wasn’t there during that last week. It eats me up the most since she was the one who really got me into being active and challenged this stubborn little kid. We didn’t always see eye to eye – well, we rarely saw eye to eye haha – but her courage and patience with me was amazing. She made me attend the most awfullest group things were I was like the only under 50 person and etc etc. But in between those sessions she thought me probably the most important thing I ever could have learned: it doesn’t matter what you do, when you do or at which age – as long as you do SOMETHING. If I could just shout out and let her know how much I appreciate her hard work I would so do it!
I owe a huge thanks to the whole staff of our section in that building. All the nurses, all the physiotherapists, ophthalmologist, occupational therapist, dentists, doctors, you name them. Without those ten years with the best care of the whole wide world I would have never got this good chance to be as healthy and live a normal life as possible. I’m living prove what early prevention can be at it’s best. People can’t see outside of me that I have something as hard to deal with as RA and yet I still find myself struggle the most common things that I struggled at the age of 8.
You never know how good the things are until you loose them for good.