One Day At A Time

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.

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

View Comments (9)
  • suann
    3 years ago

    I try my joints first thing before getting out of bed. I will move my legs and bend my knees first, it doesn’t matter how I feel when I wake i still have to get out of bed.. Most mornings it is very painful. I have been disabled with my illness since 04 but have suffered all my life with RA..Being in the end stage of RA is very painful,I try not to let it rule my life but it does, with limited mobility and crippling i do have to give in to it at times..i dont like too but have no other choice..hugs, thanks for the postive vibes, I love the postive people who can still over ride the sickness..

  • jdomm1
    3 years ago

    I must say you have described my day to a ‘T’… I too have almost the same routine and attitude. And yes, we should never let the condition we have rule our lives. I love the positive approach as well. My girlfriend has been my rock as well. We walk her dog daily and it not only helps Reese but me as well. Love your attitude. See way too many people let themselves get beat up with their condition (s). It’s important with RA to have a positive attitude. Sure there are things I have had to let go…. but I fill the void with other things I can do. Keep smiling!

  • Nan Hart author
    3 years ago

    I am so happy that you “get” the fact that optimism and and a positive outlook are crucial to managing any chronic disease! I have a blog that I have written for many years that goes back to my first days. Would be interested to hear what you think about it….here is the link. It starts with the latest so you have to go back to the start. best, Nan
    http://livingwithra-nan.blogspot.com/

  • Lexishaley
    3 years ago

    I would LOVE to approach waking up and starting my day out like you do! (Testing joints,maybe a stretch or 3) but because I also have IC- interstitial ààcystitis, a very painful bladder disease, I can’t. I have to fly out of bed, fast, and run for the bathroom. Usually hobbling, ever a pretty sight! But I don’t have a choice if I want to make it before I wet myself. So I always feel as though, even if I could’ve had a great or even good start to the day by starting slowly I just can’t. And its definitely not doing me any favors! Neither is having to “go”60+ times a day.
    Yes, RA sucks…but so does IC!!!

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Lexishaley,

    Thanks so much for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your RA and IC. We understand it probably isn’t easy to move slowly in the morning, we do wish you the best and we thank you for being part of our community.

    Best,
    Lauren
    (Community Manager RheumatoidArthritis.net)

  • Nan Hart author
    3 years ago

    So sorry about the IC. It is a terrible condition and I do sympathize. I have IBS-D which has its challenges too but nothing compared to IC. I do hope you can get some relief. Dealing with RA is challenge enough. Best, Nan

  • Lexishaley
    3 years ago

    Oops. Interstitial cystitis!! Fat swollen fingers day lol

  • 5pd7ee
    3 years ago

    I have read this post twice now and I really like your description of what RA is like for you in the morning. Upon waking, I wonder which joints–fingers, wrists, ankles or balls of my feet will hurt the most as I get out of bed.
    On a good day it might be just one joint. Most days it’s at least two. Some days a few stretches and the pain is mild the rest of the day. Other days,a wrist can throb for a few hours. Today was a good day and I am grateful for less pain as it was field day at work and I was in charge of the water ballon station. But after three hours on my feet, my feet are sore! They will be propped up and resting for much of the next 24 hours.

  • Nan Hart author
    3 years ago

    I am with you 100% Some days are made for walking, others not so much or at all. It keeps us on out toes – pun intended! Best, Nan

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