As a practical matter…
I have pretty much always been known for my “practical nature” when it comes to day to day decisions, work related issues, etc. I try to carry that over to my management of RA but it is not always easy.
I say this because being practical means being able to objectively examine a situation, a set of ideas, etc. and make the most sensible choice based on clear cut facts, etc. The problem for me in trying to apply this to RA is that so much of what we deal with is subjective and nonspecific! I know that sounds odd but it really is true.
I am not referring to the obvious and clearly defined aspects of RA that we all know so well. The details of flaring are pretty well defined as are some of the underlying conditions sometimes associated with RA. What I am talking about are the more subtle aspects of RA. For instance the fatigue. That word has so many nuances it makes addressing it “practically” a real challenge! Is the fatigue because of lack of sleep? Medication side effects? Brain fog? Tough to say and for someone like me that loves everything well-defined, that drives me crazy.
There are plenty of areas where practicality can and should play a role in your approach to RA management. For one, your schedule. It is imperative that you NOT over extend yourself BUT remain engaged and active in life. Do chores in such a way that you don’t overexert while still accomplishing goals you have set. It may mean playing with your time a bit but it can and should be done. It will lead to a much better quality of life all the way around.
Medical visits are another one. Try to be practical when lining up appointments so that you can “kill two or more birds with one stone”. I try to have a day when I can see several docs if possible and have testing done in multiples as well. For instance I had my DXA and Reclast infusion (for osteorporosis) as well as my mammogram all done the same day! It was like a spa day (sort of) and really played to my practicality gene.
Exercise needs to be practical as well. I know my limits and I also have carefully considered what works for me. Tai Chi and swimming as well as walking are my go to exercises now and I am very practical about when, how much, etc. when it comes to this. I know full well that overdoing with RA can mean months of NO exercise if you get injured and that would be counter productive on so many levels.
Holidays are approaching and that is the perfect time to be a bit practical! I have really scaled back on the decorations, keeping the ones that are my most treasured and putting the others in a safe place for my kids to use (or not) someday. A few years back when our sons were all gone and only home for a week or so around Christmas we went from a live to an artificial tree. That was very hard for me! I love the smell of a fresh cut evergreen. But I knew from a place of practicality that it made sense. The fact is, this tree is still beautiful and it is who gathers around the tree not the tree itself that makes my Christmas memorable. When it comes to baking, I do it in small doses, freezing cookies and food to enjoy during the season. I use disposable plates and silverware for our traditional Christmas Eve Party and nowadays just have finger foods and easy snacks. The fact is I now enjoy a more social evening since I am not in the kitchen all night stressing over food!
So even if you don’t consider yourself very practical it makes sense to employ some measures of the practice as it will surely make your life with RA much more manageable.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.