A woman with a relieved look on her face holds a mason jar in her hands containing a flare inside.

I've Lost Control: Taking My Life Back from Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are so many things in life that I feel like I’ve lost control over because of rheumatoid arthritis. There are so many aspects of life that I feel like I’ve given over complete control to my rheumatic disease. I find myself struggling to regain control of my life, like I have to wrestle part of it back from the hands of rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve lost control and now I’m taking my life back from rheumatoid arthritis, one day at a time.

I push my schedule aside for RA pain symptoms

The days of tackling my to-do list like a pro are long gone. Kicking butt and taking names as I make my way through my day is a distant memory. Now, every morning I wake up and make changes to my lists and schedule based on what I “think” I can tackle that day. Instead of running heaps of errands in a day, I try and figure out how many can be done from my couch instead.

I don’t do this because I’m lazy. Rather, because the pain of rheumatoid arthritis dictates what I can reasonably expect to do. Side effects of medications, pain from joint damage, flares, and overwhelming fatigue are all outside my control and, at the same time, manage to control every single to-do list, schedule, or appointment.

I change my stress management techniques for the joint damage of RA

In the past, my go-to stress-relieving activities included the typical range of “girly” activities - massages, mani-pedis, a little retail therapy, and a few glasses of wine to decompress. Now, not so much. Massages are more painful than pleasurable. Same goes for manicures and pedicures. Many days, I don’t have the energy to walk down the street, much less stroll the shops. And alcohol? I might as well throw gas on the inferno that is my immune system.

Over the years I’ve had to find new ways to manage stress to take a little control back from the disease that has stolen so much. I’ve had to find other ways to manage the normal stress of life. Epsom salt soaks replaced shopping malls and sadly, I swapped out my wine for herbal teas.

I sacrifice my relationships for RA fatigue

I’ve had so-called friends judge me behind my back and hold it personally against me if the fatigue keeps me in bed instead of making plans. I’ve lost my reliable reputation and even the career I spent many years fostering. The relationships that I’ve made over the years have been so valuable and important to me, and yet the fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis keeps me from treating those I love the way they deserve to be treated.

I’ve lost control

In some respects, feeling like you’ve lost control when you live with rheumatoid disease is totally understandable. After all, there is so much in our life that we have to change because of how RD affects us. We are required to make changes to our plans, clothing, stress management techniques, and even sometimes our diet because of RD. It is just the nature of the disease, there is no getting around that.

Taking my life back from rheumatoid arthritis

But, just because there are so many things that are dictated by RD, I consciously choose not to let it completely control my life anymore. And that starts one day, one choice at a time. Feeling sorry for myself and all the ways I’ve let my rheumatoid arthritis control my life is over. I can’t continue to live this way because I am more than my diagnosis. I’m a mom, a wife, a teacher, and a friend. And those won’t change even when the rest of my life does because of rheumatoid arthritis.

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