Power and RA

RA is a powerful disease; it takes a lot out of you and asks a lot in return. I would contend that just as RA is a powerful disease, someone with RA must be more powerful in order to deal with the extra pain, fears, and uncertainties that accompany life with an auto-immune disorder. The key question becomes (and the one I’d like to dissect and unpack today) is: where does that power come from?

How do we find the power to manage rheumatoid arthritis?

Assert your truth about rheumatoid arthritis

The power to tackle RA originates from yourself and your body. This might seem contradictory to the lived experience of someone with RA, who is in pain and does not feel like they have much control over their body. The key, then, becomes asserting yourself.

By asserting your truth and your condition, you give RA a name and identify how it has impacted your life. This includes learning to say "no" to extra activities that would exacerbate your pain, journaling and writing about RA and how it is progressing, and actively taking concrete steps toward managing your condition. Assuredly, this is easier said than done.

Admit that rheumatoid arthritis impacts you

Closely tied with asserting your condition is the notion that power also comes from not letting RA defeat you. How does that explicitly play out? The first step is to accept that RA is a part of your life. This does not mean that you have to accept everything about RA; rather, admitting that RA affects you puts you in the strongest position you can be in to begin counteracting this disease. It forces perspective in your life and makes you think of the ways in which you can make your life yours again.

Be honest with your doctor about rheumatoid arthritis

The power you hold over your body is also tied to what medications you take, as well. You’re already likely working with a rheumatologist who will guide you along this journey and be there to support you; but, it can be hard to be honest and transparent with your doctor.

In my experience up until recently, I desperately wanted to be better and because of that, I began downplaying how I was doing with my condition in order to trick myself into feeling better. In retrospect, this was not the correct course of action, as I experienced a pretty severe flare recently that I could have stopped beforehand. I guess, in all honesty, I still don’t want to admit that I have RA, I continued letting RA hold some sway and power over me. But after this most recent flare, I’ve decided that that will no longer be the case.

We can live a productive life with rheumatoid arthritis

Power over this disease begins and ends with the self. This might sound quite quixotic but what I mean is: this life is hard; RA makes it harder; but that doesn’t mean you cannot live a productive life, a life that allows you to experience all the richness that this life contains and offers.

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