A Top Ten About My RA

So during this Arthritis Awareness Month of May, I wanted to reflect on the top ten things I wish people knew about my RA. These are in no particular order and I could probably list 20, but we will stick to the “Top Ten”.

1)  I may not look sick, but please respect what I tell you about my ability to participate in certain activities.  RA is chaotic and brutal and though I may appear to be fine on the surface, understand that the pain and fatigue and discomfort can come on like a sudden thunderstorm.  So, don’t question my choices, or push me to do things that may compromise my health.

2)  Ask me if you can help or support me.  I hate to always have to ask.  There is nothing more wonderful than when a family member or friend anticipates what I might appreciate and JUST DOES IT.  Taking me to dinner, a movie, etc.  Offering to bring a meal over on a whim (I don’t cook anymore – see #7) is heaven on earth for me!

3) On the flip side of #2, I know what I can do after 20 years of managing RA, so please don’t always question my choices, suggesting something may not be good for me.  I have not lost my ability to think and consider.

4) Sleep can be elusive with RA.  That means I may have very low energy days and so let me set the pace.  Brain fog, often the result of poor sleep, may mean I am not as articulate or focused.

5)  Pain levels vary dramatically as does my ability to cope with it.  Some days I may need to just rest and not do anything.  Trust my choice.

6) Exercise is crucial but needs to be tailored to the activity of my RA at any given time.  One day, when my knees and hips and feet are at peace, walking may be perfect!  Another time when they are not so compliant, simply doing some light water activity may be best.  Let me set the tone for exercise.

7) I cannot cook anymore!  Some of us with RA can and will, but for me, it brings on hand and finger discomfort that lasts for weeks, if not months.

8)  I am still the same person with the same qualities I had before RA.  If anything, RA has deepened my appreciation for the simple joys of life, from enjoying the view of a sunset with my husband from our back porch, to relishing every moment spent with my family and friends.

9) I will get sad.  I consider myself a very upbeat and strong person.  That said, there are times when I feel sad or depressed thanks to RA.  When these feelings hit, I need others to understand that and offer to listen and comfort me during those times.

10) RA does not define me but it does require my attention to manage it.  By doing that I will be a healthier and more contented person with many years of life left to live!

So there you have it.  My Top Ten.  What are yours?


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