Celebrating New Milestones Despite the Fear of Living With RA

This May, I will be celebrating my 20th anniversary of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was in my twenties when the diagnosis came into my life at the force and damage capacity of a wrecking ball. I had recently graduated from occupational therapy school and was eager to practice.

Starting to rebuild my life

I was fortunate to practice for more than 18 years as an occupational therapist. It wasn’t easy, though. I constantly found myself adapting my work, trying to battle the fatigue, dealing with unsupportive work environments, and the weightlifting requirements for my position — until, one day, my body just could not do it anymore.

I was in my early forties, unable to work due to my disability and with no family support. I kept going until I couldn’t anymore. After a year of homelessness, I started to rebuild my life.

Fast-forward 6 years, and I found myself in a place that I hoped I would be since the day my rheumatoid arthritis forced me out of a career that I loved.

Reaching new milestones with RA

I have written a few previous articles on my journey to find that just-right new career for me. Happily, I report that I have been working in a new career now for several months. It is a very large change going from the medical field to the field of law.

However, I am loving my full-time work as a legal assistant. It is a field I can learn and grow in. Fortunately, my position is fully remote, which, honestly, was a must-have for me. When looking for a position, I kept it real; I knew my limitations and the challenges that come at a moment's notice when living with a chronic illness.

The reality of transitions in life with RA

After several job interviews and many rejections later, I find myself in a career that I am loving. My new job required me to set goals for my career and growth within the company. I have to be honest; things felt surreal for me in that moment. However, it was a moment I had been waiting 6 years for.

I wish I could say transitioning was easy, but it hasn’t been. I have been working on dealing with the very real fear I live with, the same fear that many of you in our community live with daily. It's the fear of the unknown in living with a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis. In my particular case, the fear of losing my home again is real, and it's a lot to take in at times.

Moving forward despite the fear

Every day, I choose to move forward and 'just keep swimming.' It has not been easy, and some days look prettier than others. Even writing this article was hard for me. I didn’t want to tell people my exciting news and then have something happen.

Then I realized that if living with rheumatoid arthritis has taught me anything, it is to live every day of my life despite the fear and despite daily challenges that are inevitably faced when living with RA.

Celebrating the wins

I am thankful for a community like ours here at RheumatoidArthritis.net. It gives us a platform to talk about issues like fear related to the disease we live with. Our fears are real, but I am learning to still celebrate the wins no matter how big or small they might be in our lives.

I am not sure how my life story is going to go. However, what I do know is that I will never regret trying to live my best life. I always want to contribute to this world in any way that I can, thankful for every day I am given — despite the pain, the fears, and everything else that comes with living with RA.

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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.

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