Adaptability, Control, and RA
We live in a society that is inherently fluid—or, so we are told. And because of that fluidity, we are supposed to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to instantaneously change when our present circumstances change.
In some respects, these are qualities necessary to living a healthy, productive, and mature life; but these qualities do not come naturally to those of us with RA, particularly when you have had the disease for so long. Notice that I mentioned these qualities are not natural to those with RA; rather, I think having RA produces those qualities in people. Despite change being an ever-present constant, many with RA desire constancy, for things to remain the same.
Can we achieve control with rheumatoid arthritis?
Moreover, we as humans seek safety in constancy. It’s why we form routines, expend excessive amounts of energy on productivity, and meticulously plan out our days. This is emblematic of a desire for control.
But when you add RA into the mix, feeling like you have control over your own situation goes away rather quickly. Today I’d like to discuss some ways in which we can begin to take control of our disease and put ourselves back on track to living the best life that we can, given our circumstances with this disease.
Living a better life with rheumatoid arthritis
Take control of RA by talking about it
Although I may be fairly biased in offering this suggestion (I was an English major in college), I believe that talking about RA is critical to taking control of it. Calling RA for what it is and accepting that it affects your life is a powerful move toward control, toward taking action against a rather insidious disease.
How this manifests is up to you: it could be by sharing your experiences on our website or by confiding in a friend. Either way, giving the disease a name and assessing its impact on your life is the first step toward taking control of your life with RA.
Talk to your doctor and assess your medications
Having an open and honest relationship with your rheumatologist (and PCP!) is important, particularly for someone with RA. With the amount of physical and medical changes that RA brings, it’s important to be in continuous communication with your doctors, particularly with RA because of its systemic impact on the body. In part, these changes stem largely from the heavy-duty medications we take that significantly affect our bodies.
Particularly if you’re on a biologic, you want to make sure you’re responding well to the medications, carefully noting any changes you notice with them. For instance, I have been on Humira since May 2019 and never had any bruising at the injection site until my past injection on 5 July. Keeping in check with these medications helps ensure that we are on the right treatment path.
Discover new hobbies
Use RA as a launching point for discovering new and interesting hobbies. For instance, since being diagnosed, I’ve wanted to start a small apartment garden. I’ve also made reading and writing a central part of my life and have found wonderful benefits in doing so.
The key to this is finding something that appropriately balances the energy you have at the end of the day while still allowing you to unwind and enjoy yourself. Other community members have found trying different forms of exercise, art classes, and other local clubs and venues.
Acceptance as a form control
Although exceedingly difficult, there are certain situations where accepting the inevitable is the only way to move forward. This doesn’t mean that one can’t be proactive in combating RA and its effects; rather, accepting RA into your life allows you to view your life in a more holistic fashion. I’ve found that with this holistic view, I am able to understand myself and how my body responds to the disease inhabiting my body. Moreover, it helps me reconfigure my place in this world.
Check-in: As we start a new year, how are you feeling?