I know that many with autoimmune disease have been following Venus Williams since her Sjogren's diagnosis last summer. I certainly have and she has really helped bring a voice to what it is like to live and learn to live with AI disease. There was a recent interview with Venus leading up to the US Open that I wanted to share.
Venus is shutting down all speculation about retirement from singles and had recently made it to the semifinals at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati last week and won an Olympic Gold in doubles with Serena in London earlier this month. Williams shared that she is "doing a lot better than this time last year...So much better than a couple of months ago, as well. I am learning to deal with everything a lot better."
The article continues that "in her first few tournaments after the seven-month layoff she would panic if she woke up feeling stiff or tired. A loss was inevitable. Now, she's starting to figure out how to hang in there even on the bad days and still get a win. She has changed her diet...and is letting her body dictate her activity instead of always pushing through."
While I am very very far from a world class athlete, this kind of evolution and adjustment is something that I can certainly relate to. Learning not to feel defeated when I wake up not feeling well and replanning my day accordingly without letting frustration get the best of me can be a challenge. Becoming flexible about my schedule because each day with AI disease can be a bit of a surprise -- sometimes good and other times not so good. This need for flexibility does not come naturally to me, but it is something that I am getting better at. I have also learned, the hard way, the lesson of not pushing through when my body is begging me or even subtlety telling me to stop. The end result is never good -- and usually if I just stop, rest, and take a break, I will probably be able to get back to what I need to do later that day or hopefully the next day.
Thanks for sharing Venus, and I will certainly be watching and rooting for you in the Open.