The Rhyme and Reason of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an especially frustrating chronic illness as far as I’m concerned. I admit bias since I haven’t experienced many others. But even with my bias, I still think I can say this with confidence.
How many diseases cause severe pain, financial hardship, crushing fatigue, isolation, and progressive loss of function? How many diseases have many options for medication, and yet many patients can’t find one that works for longer than a few years?
How many diseases can cause someone to go from walking somewhat comfortably to the inability to stand in a matter of hours? And then back to walking a few days later? How many diseases can cause a near complete collapse of function for years and then quiet itself enough to give some of that function back?
How many diseases cause you to never be comfortable in your body again? I’d say frustrating is putting it mildly.
A confusing treatment experience
Rheumatoid arthritis defies logic at every turn. Wouldn’t it make sense that if I have an overactive immune system I’d never get sick? No such luck, especially since the only way we know to treat the disease at this point is to subdue the immune system in some way, making me more vulnerable to illness, not less.
It would be great if taking a medication would always have the same result, but no, that is asking too much. The effectiveness of medication is tied to the whims of my mercurial body. Just when I think I have my life dialed in, something shifts which means I have to adjust, yet again.
Wanting to get back to my normal
Living with such an illogical, hard-to-treat disease like rheumatoid arthritis means that at times, my brain can get in the way instead of helping me. Every time I experience a setback, the first thing I want to do is figure out how to get back to my normal.
Trying different remedies
I want to examine all the factors that could have caused my setback and shift what is not helping me. I want to cut gluten out of my diet or eat ginger so that I can bring my inflammation down. I want to believe my friends who tell me that all I need to do is eat for my blood type and it will go away. I just want to figure this out so that I can get back to my life.
The healing act of letting go
Over the years I’ve realized that there is such a thing as trying too hard when it comes to trying to influence RA and that letting go of trying to figure it out can be a healing act in itself. That maybe, instead of trying to get back to my life, I need to live the life I have.
Appreciating my current gifts and abilities
The life I have, just like my juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, defies logic. My knees, that have spent years so swollen that they can barely move, are still allowing me to walk, get on a bike. And my hands, with multiple fused and artificial joints, are still letting me cook, paint, and type these words. If I can appreciate these gifts instead of frustrating myself with the fact that my disease is staying so active after all these years, then I know I’ll be happier. I think that’s a logical next step!!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?