alt=a woman speaks to her pastor in an office decorated with religious symbols

Milestones, Chronic Disease, and Reassessment

I turned sixty years old on April 2, 2022. Somehow it does not seem possible. Although many days I feel much older due to my rheumatoid arthritis, there’s something about being a sixty-year-old that just does not sound right! I have so many wonderful memories of my high school and college years. Wow, did I just sound like my mother or what?

Going through major life changes

Due to a new diagnosis, medication changes, and a bad flare, I have really pondered where I am now and what the future might look like. It has not been pleasant. I spent a full week allowing myself time to grieve my loss and future. I thought it would just be a day, but it carried on for more than a week. Aside from rheumatoidarthritis.net, I do not have anyone who really understands. Sometimes, you need someone to listen in person. How do we cope with these types of issues? How do we make sense of it all? Most importantly, how do we re-assess (again!) and find some sort of positive angle to all this?

How I cope

Writing things down

When dealing with brain fog, I have found that writing things down helps. Once it is on paper, it no longer inhabits your brain. Problems are much easier to solve when you look at them on paper rather than through your emotional self. Make a separate column for solutions, even if you are just brainstorming. The solution is then easier to see, even if it involves several steps.

Leaning into my spirituality

My first step is always prayer and meditation. I sing hymns and songs of comfort, read scripture, and spend restful time focusing on the positives in my life. It is easy to get mired in the negative consequences of living with rheumatoid arthritis. Reminding ourselves of the positives helps to balance the scale.

Talking to a trusted friend

As my grief continued, I realized I needed someone to listen and not judge. I needed support, encouragement, validation, and ideas. After some consideration, I contacted a pastor at my church for an appointment. That visit made a large impact. I did not hold back in sharing my grief and story. Getting the story out in the open was such a relief! As I received validation that living with rheumatoid arthritis is exceedingly tough, I felt “normalized.” It is okay to feel like you did not win the genetics lottery! After some ideas for rest and support, we prayed together.

Decluttering

Housekeeping is the one thing I routinely let go of. My energy is saved for my full-time job. Recently I read an article on organizing that suggested picking up one thing in each room and putting it away or in the giveaway bin. Ah! I can do that! Now I feel like I have accomplished something. By the end of the week, seven items have been dealt with. When I had some energy, I went through my closet and took out all the clothes I no longer wear. A local charity will receive two 30-gallon garbage bags full of clothes.

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