One Day At A Time
People often ask me, once they hear I have RA, what exactly does your day look like? How do you move through a typical 24 hour period?
Well, let’s start with getting out of bed first thing in the morning. Before I even begin to sit up, I take stock of my joints and the level of pain and/or stiffness. I shift around, bend some joints and just generally “test out” my movement level. Then, after determining if I can sit up without having to contort my body, I rise. I will say that I do try to do some stretches if my joints feel “tight”, which makes getting up easier and less painful.
Next, I slowly make my way to the bathroom. I say slowly, because I have never been a person known for moving, talking (or driving, sadly) slowly. I like fast. So it takes a lot of self-control for me to walk slowly but I do it. I do it because until I am up and moving, I can never be sure of which joints have decided to rebel on that day, and I need to know that before I plunge forward.
I always set out my clothes the night before. I do that because it is one less decision I have to make in the morning when I am just trying to get in the shower, get dressed, get groomed, etc. Plus, I love seeing what I selected already to go - jewelry, shoes and all! It gives me a nice boost in the morning.
Next, I head downstairs. First, I get the coffee started which perks me up! Next, I take my wonderful little dog, Leah, for a walk. This gets me moving and the fresh air really invigorates me. How far we go totally depends on how my joints are doing but I am fine with that. Just getting outside and enjoying the beauty of early morning fills me with joy.
After eating a light breakfast (usually a fiber bar and some yogurt) and taking my medications for the day, I head to work. I love my work and the wonderful staff I work with. I feel blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful work life. My work affords me the opportunity to move around at will, to pace my activities on how I am feeling and to even work remotely when that makes the most sense. A true Godsend.
After work, when I get home, I take Leah for another walk, then I have dinner and spend the remainder of my day doing things I enjoy like reading, doing Tai Chi, coloring, watching the sunset on my back porch, etc. My husband and I DVR a lot of shows we like, so we usually watch a few shows and then head to bed. I tend to change into “comfy clothes” almost the minute I get home! I also may apply some ointments or use a heating pad for a bit to quiet the joints that have been busy all day. I try to get to bed somewhat early because I know that my sleep can be fitful so I need to be vigilant about getting as much rest as possible.
Weekends are somewhat different for me as I swim first thing in the morning. I look forward to retirement when I can swim a lot more often! My husband and I love to go to breakfast at our favorite family restaurant, and we very much enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and theatre productions.
Of course, visits with friends and family are special and welcome, as are trips to see our three sons. They take more planning and I tend to pack and plan days, if not weeks, ahead so that I am rested and ready to go when the day of travel arrives.
As you can see, my days are not that much different than anyone else’s. What is different is that I have to incorporate my disease activity into my day and it guides just how much I can do. But, I do not let the fact I have RA dominate my life, even on my worst days. And they do happen. On those days, I may just rest and do what I can to ease the pain and stiffness. I may cry a little, which calms the mind. I may get a bit angry and not be good company but on all of those days, I know it is only temporary and as sure as the sun rises, tomorrow will bring joy and a new outlook.
I can say, for better or for worse, that no two days are the same when you have RA, so taking it one day at a time is the best approach for me, and maybe for you too.
When was your last flare?