Single moms don't have to deal with chronic illness, thankfully. That's what I thought. Because if we did, then our lives could turn out to be a nightmare. During the summer of 2010, I started to get joint pain in my knees so I went to a drugstore, purchased a few knee braces, and continued on my way. I have a teenage daughter to take care of by myself. I couldn't time off from work. I had homework to help with, laundry, swim meets, cheerleading practice, basketball games, and meals to cook.
This wasn't happening to me. Sickness happens to other people (people with husbands who can take care of them). People with money and all the time in the world for doctor’s appointments and hospitalizations. Sickness doesn't happen to people who can't afford to stop moving.
I finally gave in and went to the doctor after losing 30 pounds without trying. I was so tired that going to the mailbox would wear me out for hours. I slept for days and still was exhausted. Joint pain, severe headaches, myoclonic jerking, and tachycardia. Something was wrong, and the doctor had to fix it now.
With thousands of medications at her disposal, I'm sure she had something in her arsenal that could turn things around. She gave me blood tests for days while I waited for the results.
The answer came on the day of the third largest blizzard in Chicago history. I had lupus. That was insane. How can you have a disease that you knew nothing about? As the days went on, my symptoms got worse. But I floated in a boat alone down the river of denial. It wasn't until one fateful day when I lost control of my legs that I figured out this was serious.
I've been hospitalized many times. I was forced to take a sick leave for six months. I'm on public assistance while my job figures out what to do to me. I take 29 medications a day. I use a wheelchair and a walker to get around. I look at myself in the mirror, and I don't recognize who I am sometimes.
I learned that single moms can get sick too. I was not immune to the unfairness of life. But just before you put the nail in my coffin, I've learned so many things.
My family came together during this time. I have a great support system. My best friend became my fiancé, and I'm getting married this year. I published my first book, Diary of A Sick Chick; A Year In The Life Of A Chronically Ill Woman on Amazon. I write poetry, do awareness videos, and spend more time with my daughter. I enjoy a side of life that I didn't before because I worked long hours.
I was forced to take on a new identity. Even though the new Sonya is in constant pain. This Sonya is free. You can live in denial if you choose. Or you can pick up a new identity. So what will you do? Will you lie on your couch and wait for death? Or will you pick up the pieces and learn how to live again? Which will it be? I decided to get up. And I'm living and living well.