The good, the bad and the ugly
Taking a look at RA from the perspective of the good, the bad and the ugly reveals some interesting insights worth sharing.
Let's start with the good. For me the good parts of RA largely center around the notion of building resiliency. If there is one thing that RA has taught me it is the ability to "roll with the punches". The chaotic and unpredictable nature of RA tests our patience, pain threshold, mental stability, etc. Being able to adapt and change to whatever current conditions we find ourselves in, requires a large measure of resiliency. I have learned to let go of those things I cannot control and embrace the new - treatments, coping tips, exercise strategies, etc. I keep moving on to keep moving on....
Another good is the appreciation I have for all that is wonderful in my life....family, friends, work, community, exercise...life in general and the simple things I honestly took for granted pre-RA. I relish the good days and enjoy every moment that brings me less pain, more mobility, brain fog free times, etc. I also appreciate my RA Support Team - those folks who make my life with RA manageable. That includes the medical folks, my co-workers, my RA Support Group and of course and most importantly my loving family and friends.
Now onto the bad. There are the obvious ones such as the pain, impairment, stress, etc. that accompanies a chronic disease like RA. But beyond that are the things we have to surrender. I truly hated that fact I could no longer pursue some activities I loved such as dancing, tennis, etc. I can no longer cook to any extent which although I never loved to cook, it was part of who I was as a mom and wife. So it took some bad and difficult times to get through this and come out the other side with an outlook that held promise for the future and did not dwell on loss. Bad certainly is a part of RA and always will be. It is how we manage it that determines our ability to move forward and be happy and productive people.
Lastly there is the ugly. This has so many facets when it comes to RA. First of all and perhaps the most obvious are the ugly and distinctive changes our bodies undergo as a result of RA. The often damaged looking, misshapen joints were once a routine part of life with RA. Thankfully the newer and more intense and fast acting treatments out there can prevent a lot of those really apparent joint disfigurements. Nodules, however seem to still be a part of RA and can be not only unattractive but painful as well. For those of us who are on corticosteroids we sometimes enjoy the fun side effects of abdominal weight gain, the moon face, easy bruising, etc. all of which shake our confidence in our appearance. I have learned to look at myself differently to cope with this. I no longer obsess about the appearance but rather focus on eating healthy, moving my body as much as I can and doing positive pampering like massage to feel better. It really does work!
Another ugly is often the people we encounter who either through ignorance or just plain lack of interest treat us with disrespect, disbelief, dismissiveness, etc. This can be so emotionally painful to cope with! Ugly is truly the perfect word to describe this behavior and the people who embody it. Over the years I have learned to weed these folks from my life, choosing instead to surround myself with positive people who are understanding and supportive.
The good, the bad and the ugly are integral parts of the RA picture and once understood can and should be assimilated into our management of the disease.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?