Archive for the ‘Backstory’ Category

A little history Part 2

March 4, 2010

Since my parents, nor his, would be able to come to the wedding, I asked my Mom to make my wedding dress – you should have seen her jaw hit the floor!  I still have that dress and my veil in a white pillowcase.  Finally it was time to leave and I stopped in San Francisco on my way to Sydney so I could see my aunt and uncle – they had introduced us.  Plus my cousin’s wife was from Hawaii and she arranged with her parents to meet me in Honolulu for a 9 hour lay over before heading on to Sydney.

I will say, on that Sunday morning I arrived in Sydney, I looked like I had slept in my clothes.  He had brought the whole family with him – his Dad’s first cousin – and all I could think was I was with him again.  Unfortunately he left the next day to give finals and then would be back a few days later.  So there I was, everyone had left for school or work and I was left with Angel who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Armenian or Arabic.  But we did really well making the other understood and those few days while he was gone, I finally found out about Armenians.  It didn’t really occur to me I was in a strange country, with strange people speaking a different language, eating unusual food – I only knew I was without him again.

Thursday night he came back from the small town and we prepared for the wedding Saturday afternoon.  It was a lovely sunny, Fall day and I remember being ready before anyone else – I looked out the front window thinking “This isn’t how I pictured my wedding day”.  We had about 20 people, that included us and the minister.  That evening we took a slow train 450 miles west of Sydney to go to the little town where he was teaching.

We had a very small flat, no heat or air conditioning and where everyone knew everyone else.  To be considered 1 of 2 American couples, we definitely stood out.  We were both really home sick for the States, it took us a year and a half to save the money to come back here.  I had never been that far away from home but because we only had each other to depend on, we developed a closeness we might never have had if we had stayed here.  Being in a third country made it easier because we both were dealing with a strange place rather than only one of us.

There was a lot of stress all the time we were in Australia, then stress coming back because of immigration – he had applied for and received a permanent residency visa, but I didn’t relax until we were several miles from L.A. airport.  We settled in San Francisco Bay area and about 2 months after we were back, I was putting my coat on after working 12 to 9 at a department store.  My shoulders hurt so much and that night I couldn’t get comfortable, it was as if someone was boring holes in my shoulders.  The next night the same thing happened and I knew something was wrong since I couldn’t raise my arms higher than my waist.

I went to my aunt’s doctor and was fortunate to be diagnosed right away.  He told me I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and I said “Fine” as I went along my merry way – I had no idea what it was.  In the past 38 years I have learned a lot more about it than I ever wanted to know.  I am blessed with a really great husband, I know he could have left after I was diagnosed – we said for better or for worse but didn’t expect worse after just a year and a half.  There have been husbands who have left; I can’t imagine how that would feel.

A little history

March 2, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, the back story has something to do with the “why”.

I was born in Los Angles area and when I was 7, my parents moved here to Seattle.  I graduated from high school in 1964, then went 2 years at junoir college (that was the term in the old days) and then 2 years to commercial art school.  Just as I finished art school and before I went to work for Boeing as a tech illustrator, my aunt in San Francisco invited me down for a 2 week holiday.  I met a young man and stayed three weeks.  He was a foreign student, an Armenian, born and brought up in Jerusalem when it was Palestine, carried a Jordanian passport with a student visa.  He had been in the U.S. for 8 years working and going to school – after 8 years and a Masters, he had had enough of school.  Unfortunately in those days, when one stopped being a student, one had to leave.

He didn’t want to go back home because there were no opportunities for a Christian there, but it was too expensive for England and not enough time for a visa to Canada.  He was able to obtain a good conduct certificate from Amman, Jordan through a cousin and was set to leave for Australia.  I met him 5 months before he left and while I was in San Francisco, we dated a lot.  He later came to visit Seattle and just before he left, I went down to “visit my aunt” again.  We had written back and forth after I left the first time – he was so different from anyone I had ever met.  he could have stayed another quarter in school, then we could have been married here – he didn’t want me to think he was marrying just to stay here.

He must have been very sure I was going to say yes because he bought my rings before he left but didn’t ask me to marry him until he had been in Australia for a month or so.  He said we would be unofficially engaged and in December officially engaged.  But it would be the following December before we would be married; a very long time to wait.

He sent my rings to my Dad with instructions to give them to me on Christmas – it wasn’t until 1 minute after midnight that I saw my engagement ring.  Even so, he didn’t show me the wedding ring until he had received instructions.   It was a lovely emerald cut, not huge but I loved seeing the rainbow colors from the sunshine.

It turned out he couldn’t wait until the following December, so we planned to marry at term break.  That meant I had some things to do before leaving – a passport, smallpox shot, polio oral vaccine, etc.  The other item was a bit of a puzzler – I had to prove I was a spinster.  I had plenty of time to think because that January it snowed over 3 feet, very unusual here.

When it was finally clear enough to drive, my Dad drove me  to the County/City building in downtown Seattle. When we walked in, I’m sure the guy behind the counter of the Marriage License Bureau thought “He’s old enough to be her father”.   Then when I explained what I needed and asked if he had any suggestions.  He said he would write a letter on their letterhead that they had never issued a marriage license for me in King County – that left 38 other counties and 49 other states.  Then I asked my minister to write a letter for me to say he had never married me to anyone.

Backstory – why not me?

February 28, 2010

To know more about who I am and what qualifies me to write this blog, I thought a bit of backstory might answer a few questions.  I mentioned I have had  Rheumatoid Arthritis for 39 years – in November 2009  it was 39 years that I was diagnosed.  Whether this is a reason to celebrate is still open to question.  I was fortunate that I was diagnosed right away, in 1970 it was not always easy for women to be able to be diagnosed that soon.  I met many women who had not been taken seriously, they were told they were just depressed or   to find an interest or that they were imagining it.  Yet a man could go in to see the doc and be taken seriously right away.

Also, the usual treatment was to start with aspirin and slowly work up the pyramid to gold injections.  From what I can see, many rheumatologists now start right in with Methorexate, and more heavy duty drugs to turn off the inflammation.  I find myself looking at other ways that are non-pharmaceutical since my body has had so many drugs over the years.  So far I haven’t found anything that really makes a difference, though I have many more possibilities to explore.  When I find what works, I will be happy to share it – though with body chemistry and course of disease different for everyone, there is no one answer for everyone.

I have also learned that much of RA comes from within, that means attitude, outlook and perception.  The one thing I have learned is that it is not necessarily “Why me?”, or even “Why not me?” that is important. It is the “How do I deal with it” that is important.  Even though I tend to feel I whinge about it all the time, people often tell me how amazed they are that I have such a positive attitude.  Obviously the inside feelings don’t show on the outside.   I have come to understand that the Universe is not out to get me, instead the Universe supports me and takes care of me.  There is a gift in RA, I am l working out what it is.  If anything I have had to deal with can benefit someone else, then that is something very positive coming out of something that sometimes feels very negative.

I consider myself an expert on my own RA, not for anyone else.


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