I confess: I love to dance. Always have. I am a dancing fool, a dancing queen.
For as long as I can remember, I’d throw out my limbs in a happy, awkward thrill of arms and legs akimbo. No need for a reason—every moment provides an opportunity to dance!
One of my proudest moments from middle school was when I won a dance contest at one of the school dances. I was breathless from exhausting myself, but so proud. I didn’t really think I could win! I had damage from my rheumatoid arthritis, with limited range in my joints and a fear of falling down. But I clung to that rhythm and won my first and only dance contest.
Even after I started using a wheelchair, I continued to dance. Sometimes, leaving my wheelchair for a brief time. Other times, boogeying from my seat and spinning my chair for extra effect.
I danced at my wedding, first with my father and then with my husband. They helped me to keep my balance and step gently. Two of the best dances of my life.
At a family wedding last year, I enjoyed dancing with my husband and watching him twirl. Afterward, a woman in a wheelchair on oxygen told me that she admired my dancing and felt it inspiring. I could tell she was exhausted, but having fun watching the celebrations. It made me happy that my commitment to dancing, despite the limitations of my disease could make someone smile.
I made an impression when I attended a company retreat and showed my dance moves. My coworkers still love talking about my enthusiasm and how surprised they were.
It boils down to my love of life, despite my rheumatoid arthritis. My dance moves have changed over the years and I need more frequent rests, but I love channeling my energy into dancing. I think it’s the thrill of not caring about looking goofy, enjoying a moment filled with music, letting my body celebrate even when I am feeling aches and pains.
I always look for opportunities to dance. For this reason, I love a wedding and gathering with friends and family to cut a little rug. Or maybe it’s Friday and a good song is playing on the radio. Or maybe I am watching David Bowie sing in the movie “Labyrinth” with my husband next to me on the couch. Time to dance!
When I’m dancing, I’m not thinking about my achy joints or my exhaustion. I’m just thinking about the music and my next move. Or I’m looking at the people around me and appreciating a moment of freedom from worry—about my rheumatoid arthritis, or what other people may think, or looking silly.
So put on some ABBA and channel the dancing queen. Anyone can dance. Even a nose wriggle counts. Enjoy the moment and forget your worries and your pain with a little joy of movement. Take it from a fellow dancer, nothing brings a smile like a little dancing.
Have you shared tips on how to manage RA with anyone before?