"I ended the day after my 40th birthday curled up in bed, trying not to let my three young children hear my sobs. I'd awakened that morning with a 101°F fever and the strange symptoms I'd been battling on and off for years, but this time the painful red rash that snaked its way across my upper body was the worst it had ever been. The blanket of fatigue that had turned me into a zombie wife and mom felt like it had gained 20 pounds. When I couldn't even make it out of bed, my husband, Tyce, insisted that I go to the ER. Hours later, a rheumatologist told me that I had Still's disease, an incredibly rare form of arthritis for which there is no cure.
After I got back home, all I could think about was that my life was over. How would I ever be the mom and wife my family deserved when I was in constant pain and sleeping for 12 to 14 hours a day?
Then came a voice I'll never forget. 'This is for you!' My 8-year-old daughter, Karlie, was standing beside my bed, thrusting a water bottle toward me with a Crayola-written note taped to its side: I love you, Mom, and I hope you get better soon! It was such a simple thing, but at that moment, looking at my sweet, compassionate little girl, the love I felt was overwhelming. I will—I must—get better for my kids, I told myself. And not just physically—emotionally, too.
For the next week, as I stayed in bed and endured the flare-up, I downloaded every book I could find on positive thinking and how to fight inflammation. No matter how terrible my situation was, I decided, someone else had it worse. From then on, whenever the negative chatter rooted into my brain, I pushed it away. If my legs hurt, I'd think, Some people don't even have legs. Thank God you do!
It might sound like a small change, but reframing my thoughts has been more powerful than any steroid, and even more life changing than eating an anti-inflammatory diet and dropping 30 pounds (both of which really have helped). Mentally, I feel amazing, and now I'm the one friends come to when they need a pep talk. I tell them what I tell myself: 'There is a bright side to everything, no matter what it is. You just have to look for it.' "