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A bunch of people showing pain at various spots along their body due to RA. The pain spots are made of speech bubbles.

Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A New Reason to Listen to Your Body

My eyes pop open this morning and look around while I slowly wait for the rest of my body to figure out how to move again. As I lay here and wait, my thoughts ramble through my to-do list for the day. As I finally get going, I push my inner voice screaming at me in pain, down as deep as I possibly can, lift my chin, and start my day.

Pushing through RA pain

All throughout my usual busy day, my body continues to try and send me signals. But instead of listening, I just continue to push myself. I push myself to put one foot in front of the other and march painfully through everything I have to get done in my day.

Hello? Is anyone listening?

All the while pushing that voice down as deep as I can. And as the days go on, instead of responding to that inner voice, instead of listening to what it is telling me, I become more short-tempered with everyone around me.

Stop! Slow down! Rest!

My responses become extremely clipped with my children and I barely notice. My patience is pretty much nonexistent. And my body is shouting at me to stop, to slow down, to rest, and my only response is to snap at my children more as they ask questions and snarl in response to my husband’s questions.

Why can’t I listen to my own body?
Why won’t I listen to my body?

Because there’s no room for feeling bad when there is just so much to do. Before you know it- you push push push, ignoring your shouting body and then you are shouting, snapping at people, thinking there was no end in sight. Downward I spiral. Until I finally stop. I take a deep breath, and for once, just listen. I close my eyes and just quiet everything else until finally, finally I listen and hear my body screaming. But by now, my body doesn’t have the energy to send me any more signals.

A new reason to listen to my body

My shoulders sag with the weight of my behavior today. My aching joints, my overwhelming fatigue, and really, my own reluctance to listen to my own body today has made me a terrible mom. The choice to ignore my body has cost me so much today. Because I thought there was no room for my RA today, my family has paid the price in the form of a total lack of patience, empathy, and understanding.

So what is the lesson here?

Today, I’ve learned so much. Yes, we say all the time, “Listen to your body.” And I’ve had this lesson hit me in the face time and time again, you’d think I’d get it. But I’ve never paid the price in the way that I did today. Usually, I push my body past the brink and then end up parking in Flare City for the better part of a week or more. But this time, this was different.

Listen

Yes, I didn’t listen to my body. But because I didn’t listen, my behavior impacted those who I love the most. Sure, we all have “bad” days, and we continue to remind ourselves to listen to our body. But when we don’t rest, when we don’t take a break and instead yell, snarl, and snap at those we love the most because we think that what we have to “do” is SO important,  then that is a whole other lesson we need to learn.

We can’t take our pain and fatigue out on those we love, no matter how much they love us, or they won’t be around for long. That is just the simple fact of the matter.

Slow down and breathe

If you’ve ever had a day like I had, then you apologize. Explain to your children the importance of listening to your body. Calm down. Breathe. Get some rest. And do it all over again tomorrow, because that is what life with rheumatoid arthritis is. We live day to day and hope to do the best with what we have.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • MetalMummy
    1 week ago

    This could’ve been written by me..I battle with myself daily, physically and mentally..hate it!

  • Sallyiam
    3 weeks ago

    Does Humira have assistance programs

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Hey @sallyjam!

    Thanks for reaching out. Humira does have a co-payment assistance plan. Here is information from the website: https://www.humira.com/humira-complete/cost-and-copay

    Your rheumatologist’s office should also have information on how to sign up for it.

    All the best, Monica (RheumatoidArthritis.net team)

  • 5eagles
    3 weeks ago

    I actually had the RA ribbon tatooed on my inner wrist to remind me to listen to my body. I’m 59 years old and have no other tatoos. Its my tool to checck in and listen to my body.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Hey @5eagles! I love that tattoo idea! May I ask (since I love tattoes) is it black ink or in color?

    Thanks for sharing. ~Monica

  • 5eagles
    3 weeks ago

    In color, purple and blue, with black outline.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    3 weeks ago

    LeAnne,
    Thank you. Many of us deal with days like these. I’m so sorry that your days are so painful. You did the right thing in apologizing.

    RA forces us to re-evaluate and re-order our priorities. When my children were younger and couldn’t understand my pain, I told them, “mommy has to go in time out until she can listen to you nicely.” I would go to my room and lie down for 20-30 minutes. I also “invented” chair time with mom. Each child got to sit in a chair with mom for 15 minutes and talk or read a book. The more children, the longer this is. This usually provided enough relief to make it through until bedtime.
    Gentle hugs,
    Mary Sophia

  • rsauce
    4 weeks ago

    Reading your words, made me almost cry because I know exactly what you are saying. Im sorry you have to go through the difficult days.

  • Leanne Donaldson moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    Hello @rsauce it is nice to hear that my experience resonated with you- it certainly makes me feel like I’m not alone in trying to manage to hold it all together with a smile on my face. Difficult days are a little easier when you don’t feel so alone. I’m here with you too. -Leanne, Author

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    4 weeks ago

    You are not alone here rsauce and I hope this story reminded you of that. Thank you for sharing and being part of our community. best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • jdaph
    4 weeks ago

    Oh yes, this is an invaluable lesson we are R.A> sufferers NEED to learn and learn well, for more than 40 years Ive been pushing, pushing my body, and now , nearly 60 years of age, I am finally learning to STOP, SLOW DOWN, just let what doesn’t get done, not get done. Right now I am suffering with a horrible head cold, and finally, have just stopped today and not pushed myself, self care is so crucial with R.A.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Hey @jdaph!

    Your comment really resonated with me. I just started a new resolution to be patient with myself. Like you, I pushed and it didn’t work out so hot for me.

    I hope you permit me the opportunity to share one of my own recent articles. I just wrote down my RA resolution for 2020 (and beyond): https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/young-adult-chronic-condition/

    How is your cold? ~Monica

  • kat-elton
    3 weeks ago

    Hello jdaph and Leanne, I’m finally dedicating this year to figuring out how to listen without letting the pain dominate my thoughts. Self- care I so important but also easily ignored when you are just trying to get through the day. Thanks for writing what we all feel and I wish good self-care for all of us this year! Enjoy the slow moments!

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you for commenting and sharing jdaph. Such an important reminder. Wishing you some relief soon from your head cold. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • texitis
    4 weeks ago

    You brought me to tears. So well written. My spouse is my sounding board and my hound is my greatest irritation when I’m flared. If I’ve increased my dose of prednisone to treat the flare, my patience is diminished and my temper is brewing. My escape is a long hot shower, comfortable environment and an apology to those I’ve offended. Forgive me.

    I try not to use my pain as an excuse for bad behavior. Look for anything positive to get me through it. Humor is my crutch. Love is my panacea.

  • Leanne Donaldson moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you for your kind words @texitis . Prednisone seems to bring out my short temperament too. In recent years, I’ve really learned the value of a heartfelt apology, especially with my children. And they, in-turn, have gotten much better at apologizing too. So, I try to keep my eyes on the positive and hope for a better day tomorrow. (That, and I love a good laugh too!) I hope you are doing well enough today. -Leanne, Author

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you so much for commenting and sharing “texitis”. So glad this article was helpful and hopefully reminded you that you are not alone in this. Love how you aim to turn around your attitude to the positive and laugh. Appreciate you being here. Wishing you some relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    4 weeks ago

    I do not believe for a second you are a bad mom. we all do the very best we can and that is good enough.

    As for listening to our bodies? We are told for years to play though the pain, no pain no gain and a host of other ridiculous sayings.

    We can all be excused for not practicing self restraint.

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