Depression, Grief, Prayer, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Roomy Toe Boxes

Acceptance

The stages of grief, as described by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross are:

  1. Denial:
    • Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening.”‘Not to me!”
  2. Anger:
    • Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can you accept this!”
  3. Bargaining:
    • Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”
  4. Depression:
    • Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
  5. Acceptance:
    • Example – “It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

On sunny afternoons and rainy mornings, on walks with the dogs and alone
in the midst of dark nights, I have worked my way through the first four stages of grief since the first symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis began hampering me in March. It’s hard to believe you can be in denial when your knees and shoulders feel approximately as if sharp knives are being driven into them, but some of us are more stubborn than others.

There has been anger (mostly turned inward, because that’s my favorite flavor) and bargaining (sure, I can still do a new church start, after all you set your own schedule!), and a whopping portion of depression that we just won’t talk about, if you don’t mind.

In many ways, today, the first day since May that I am flying without the oxygen mask of prednisone, is the first day of the rest of my life. I woke up realizing that unless I am one of the lucky ones who experiences a remission via medication or inexplicable good fortune, I’m likely to spend some time every day of my forever recognizing and adjusting to my symptoms.

Welcome to chronic illness.

Over the weekend I received the gift of a long conversation with a church member who lives with RA, whose illness has been both acute and chronic since her 20s. I heard her reassurances that with all the new medications, my story WILL NOT be like hers. I listened to her urging that I take all the medical profession can make available and also heard her testimony that certain things, diet and exercise in particular, matter a lot, but will not be of great interest to doctors.

We talked about our feet, and what kind of shoes we can and cannot wear.

Roomy toe box shoes
And I believe that’s when I made the move. I began to recognize what sort of practical, long-term adaptations will be required of me (barring the possibilities of luck), and I Googled a few things, and found a blog that reviews shoes with appropriate support and roomy toe boxes, among other things, and I saw footwear that was not up to Peace Bang’s standards, but that I thought could be cute on my relatively small feet.

I’m grateful to the people who have been praying for me over the past six months. I hope they will keep praying for me. Having direct conversation with God about this new development in my life has been difficult. If you’re in Denial, you’re not talking about it. If you’re angry, well, I’m far too gently raised to get angry with God, despite advice in the past that God is big enough to take it. Bargaining meant trying to work it out for myself moreso than taking it to the Deity, though I found one brief shining moment of comfort in that phase.

Really, I had to get to Depression before I felt able to pray much, and at that point, I felt too miserable to be articulate. Coming from a tradition that eschews pre-programmed prayers, I had few resources. My mother loved the Unity Church’s prayer, “God is my help in every need…” It carried her through illness. But I found myself awake in the night summoning up the words of the Serenity Prayer. As an OA dropout I never learned it, really. But it’s out there in the ether, and in the dark of one of my worst nights, I prayed those words.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The night I murmured these words over and over marked the first peek around the corner to Acceptance. And looking at shoes feels like taking the first step into that new and unknown Land of Roomy Toe Boxes.

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31 thoughts on “Acceptance”

  1. As someone who’s had chronic foot problems my entire life, I was excited about the shoe site you found! (Note the plural. My foot problems range from Morton’s Neuroma and structural quirks that mean absolutely no heels, to skin problems that mean no synthetics…so no nylons or cute socks for me – not a lot of cute socks have ever been available in 100% cotton! I was going to knit some, but my skin is so sensitive I’d have to use size 0 needles to make them smooth enough that they don’t abrade my skin. And they would take forever to make on size 0s.)
    So I’ll happily check the shoe site out! It’s annoying that any shoes I can wear are usually so expensive (and almost never cute) that I literally have two pair of shoes, one pair of boots, and three pair of sandals (thanks to a 2 for 1 deal). I know envy is wrong, but I have always envied people who can wear any kind of footwear they want.

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  2. Who or what the heck is Peace Bang?
    Oh.
    Well, all I can say is that I’d wear shoes like that, in the classroom or out. In fact, I *do.* But as a 5’2″ woman with long, wide feet (I can trade shoes with friends who are 5’8″ and 5’10”), I can understand your wanting to find exactly the right pair. Hope these work out.

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  3. ((songbird))
    Love the shoes. BTW, Peacebang would not approve of my shoes either. And the other day, (prepare to gasp) I did hospital visits in my jeans and a sweatshirt.
    Peace and love,

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  4. You didn’t really imagine that we would stop, did you?
    At one remove, we have gone through those stages with you. “It’s not fair” having been a particularly loud cry in these parts.
    With smallish but wide feet, those are very much teh sort of shoes I wear anyway…and I think you will indeed look cute in them. Bother PeaceBang. She makes me nervous ;-)xx

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  5. On someone’s blog today I wrote that I have lost the ability to pray in any form that I once knew…and instead have come to recongize my breath as prayer…and as such, when I think of you, and I do, and when I breath, and I do, I hold you in my prayers.

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  6. I am a long time lurker. I just have a shoe suggestion. Check out Keens. They have that wide toe and are some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. I have sandals, oxfords and a grand pair of hiking boots I wore in June across Ireland.
    Blessings, muphinsmom.

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  7. just last night I was thinking about the Serenity Prayer, myself.
    I actually like the shoes. I haven’t been able to wear snazzy shoes for a long time, myself.
    (((((Songbird))))))

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  8. ((((Songbird))))
    I remember going through these stages well in learning to deal with autism in our lives. Someone once asked me how I knew I was in acceptance, and I suppose it’s the day you realize you don’t dwell on it any longer. You incorporate it into your routine, and soon it’s “just your life.” But a loss is a loss, regardless of what we are grieving. You remain in my prayers dear friend.

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  9. Love the shoes. Am also well acquainted with the stages of dealing with chronic illness. It’s so very difficult and at times so frustrating.
    ((((Songbird))))

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  10. I’m a big fan of denial and anger. I tend to just kind of stick there. Charmingly mature, I’m sure.
    I heartily approve of the shoes, especially if the alternative is Crocs, clean or otherwise.
    As far as the serenity prayer goes, is it possible to acquire the wisdom to know the difference other than by experience (i.e., by fruitlessly banging away at things you cannot change until you realize that, dang it, this thing isn’t changing)?
    Thanks, as always, for asking the pointy hard questions in a gentle way.

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  11. Peacebang? Nope…doesn’t ring a bell. There is no Peacebang here.
    But the shoes are cute, and I have a rep for knowing a cute shoe or two.

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  12. I don’t read Peacebang, because I don’t like to think about what I am wearing or what people think about it. If she wants to think about it, well, great. I also don’t read blogs about how 9/11 is all a big conspiracy. Reason in both cases: I just don’t believe in it. It’s wasted time in my life.
    Those are the cutest shoes and you hvae the cutest feet.
    Many loves to you as you walk down this road…in comfy and CUTE shoes.

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  13. I just want to say how wise I think you are to realize that this is a grieving process. So many people fight against accepting that they have to make changes because of an illness. (I spent time just yesterday with a brother who’s in the angry, I don’t want to change my diet because I’m diabetic phase.) Saying prayers for you.

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  14. ((((songbird))))
    Of course we will keep praying.
    Peacebang should move out west and see what women pastors around here wear. She’d blow a gasket.
    And on that note…I LOVE my Keens.

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  15. Hi Songbird. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but glad to hear that you are coming to terms with it only a few short months after learning about it. As RA patients, we have a different set of choices and need to make the most of them. Your friend with RA, sounds very wise, btw. I wish you well on your journey. My thoughts are with ya! Feel free to shoot me an email if you ever need to vent to someone who gets it. 🙂

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  16. Dear one, thank you for your honesty and transparency on all this. You are an inspiration… I can’t think of a less lurpy way to say it.
    (((Songbird)))

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  17. I think they are cute. I have to wear Birkis for this same reason. Eventually you adjust. Takes time. I’m fond of my Birki Loafers and one called “Ashby” by Birkenstock.
    Most people won’t look at your feet anyway, dearheart, but your beautiful and glowing face.

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  18. I now officially have shoe envy, I also suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and there is hope, and there are many good days. Praying for you ((((Songbird)))))

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  19. Songbird, I haven’t been reading other blogs much since before the summer. But I stopped by today because I remembered your email about RA and I wanted to see how things were. Know that I am always happy to be a source of support in living with this illness, I’ve had it 17 years and am doing quite well so there is lots of hope. But mostly know of my prayers and blessings and care for you. It was so delightful to meet you briefly all those months ago.
    Love and blessings, Christine
    PS — my absolute favorite shoes are Danskos

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  20. Hi,
    I noticed I had quite a few hits from your mentioning my blog so thought I’d stop by and say hello. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 27 (now 40). It turned my world upside down–I had never known such pain. I remember sitting in church and having to have two of the elders carry me out because I literally could not walk, my feet were so painful. I have to say that after 13 years of coping with RA, I am as close to being in remission as I’ve ever been–I attribute it to wonderful doctor who put me on Orencia and God’s abundant mercy. Roomy toe boxes help too ;-). Blessings to you, I’ll be back to check in on ya.
    Kirsten

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  21. Hi,
    I noticed I had quite a few hits from your mentioning my blog so thought I’d stop by and say hello. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 27 (now 40). It turned my world upside down–I had never known such pain. I remember sitting in church and having to have two of the elders carry me out because I literally could not walk, my feet were so painful. I have to say that after 13 years of coping with RA, I am as close to being in remission as I’ve ever been–I attribute it to wonderful doctor who put me on Orencia and God’s abundant mercy. Roomy toe boxes help too ;-). Blessings to you, I’ll be back to check in on ya.
    Kirsten

    Like

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