Rheumatoid Arthritis Wins and a Season of Hope
Last updated: November 2022
I’m here today, my friends, to offer hope. Somehow the RA gods have seen fit to bless me with a brief symptom reprieve and quite honestly, I sort of want to shout it from the rooftops! Not because I feel the need to be braggadocious or because I’ve done or not done anything in particular.
A break from my RA symptoms
However, I say this to offer hope to everyone I know who lives with chronic health conditions. After many years and countless medication combinations, I finally feel like I can function again. And even as a writer whose job it is to be able to express thoughts clearly, the words for how I feel in this moment of time completely elude me.
The moment of realization
It was just a few weeks ago and I was volunteering at my church’s annual festival. Rides, games, children running amok- you get the picture. And I was walking from one end of the festival to the other end to deliver some tickets. Anyway, on my way, I ran into different people that I knew and I was able to actually smile (like, really smile- no faking!). I was able to stop, chat, and catch up.
It wasn’t until I found myself on my way back to my booth that it dawned on me. This feels almost like I’ve caught a glimpse of an old friend. Like I haven’t seen this part of myself in an exceptionally long time. I wasn’t forcing myself to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and simply surviving until my shift was over. Nope. I was actually enjoying myself. Which was something I seriously can’t remember the last time I did.
Feeling incredibly happy
My husband asked what I was so happy about and I struggled to put it into words. And honestly, if that moment is all I get, then I will be grateful for every second of it. I will cherish that moment, celebrate it, and add it to my bank of “wins” so that next time when my RD life is feeling particularly difficult, I can use that to remind myself that “this too shall pass.”
Setting appropriate expectations
For me, I’ve finally accepted, especially since I have both RD/RA and psoriatic arthritis, that there just isn’t going to be a miracle medicine, treatment, or plan that will forever give me back my “old” self. However, I refuse to totally give up. I have learned that as long as I have an open, honest conversation with my rheumatologist about what I can reasonably expect from my treatment options, I can be a better judge about if I believe a medication is or isn’t working.
My healthy mental outlook
This shift in my mentality about what I can expect from a medication that is “working” has really helped me better determine if a specific treatment is a “win” or not. If you haven’t had that conversation with your doctor, then I would highly suggest you ask him/her because every patient’s situation is different. And the answer to that question can completely change your expectations, outlook, and mental health.
A holiday of hope
We are now winding our way into the holiday season and as such, I’d like to offer up that little anecdote to bring you a holiday of hope. I hope you are able to be blessed with moments like these, even if they are brief, to fill up your file of “wins” to keep you going during more challenging and painful times.
What good has come your way lately? Do you have any holiday hope to share?
Did you know rheumatologist Dr. Donica Baker is answering community questions?
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