Finding the Glimmer of Gold Amid the Sludge of Scleroderma

Finding the Glimmer of Gold Amid the Sludge of Scleroderma

It has been a long few weeks of dealing with recurrent benign paroxysmal positional vertigo while trying to maintain some sense of routine in between my need for sleep.

While confined to bed, I’ve watched a lot of Netflix: mostly television series from decades ago — there’s nothing like returning to old favorites for cheering oneself up. Watching “Boston Legal” took me back to the early 2000s when I was in my 30s and feeling good about my life — many years before my scleroderma diagnosis

As I watched the show, I recognized that one or two characters had similar experiences to mine. I had even worked in a lawyer’s office, although I was not a real lawyer — more like one of the glamorous secretaries. And I didn’t have a romantic encounter with James Spader in a file room, but never mind.

My past innocence about my expectations for the future resonated deeply as I recalled that decade of my life. I was healthy, fit, and happy then, and feelings of cynicism and disappointment were rare, unlike the present day.

Watching the show reminded me of how promising and exciting my life had been, and my memories served as a contrast to the present.

Disillusionment has replaced promise; boredom and negativity have displaced excitement. The change has been gradual, and I hadn’t noticed the difference until I caught a glimpse of the past. I realized that I have become dissatisfied with my current life.

The counselor in me has come to my rescue, though I retired six years ago. While I have found myself in an uninspiring place, at least I have recognized my situation, which opens the way for possible solutions.  

I needed to learn how to be content, to find the gold among the sludge. Gold panning requires a lot of effort and determination. A shimmer of the precious metal can easily be missed if the panner isn’t looking in the right direction, or is distracted by adverse weather conditions or their mental and physical efforts.  

I don’t want to miss the gold that I’m sure is still there among the sludge of scleroderma. I’ve decided to turn my attention toward finding it, instead of allowing myself to be blinded by the mud that hides it. Now that I have made this decision, I can see the possibilities more clearly.

When gold panning by hand, the main tool is the pan itself. When searching for the hidden treasure that lies beneath my scleroderma, my tool of choice is acceptance.  

Unless I can truly accept the limitations that scleroderma brings to my life, I won’t find the treasure that exists within. I’ve become distracted and discouraged by the fruitless pursuit of my past contentment. I need to adapt my search to factor in my current limitations.

Learning to be content while living with scleroderma is hard work. But I believe that it’s the key to unlocking the door of hope to my future. I am determined to remain focused on my quest to find the gold.

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Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.
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I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.

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