Owning "My" RA
Have you ever noticed that you refer to your own Rheumatoid Arthritis disease as “my RA”? It did not start out that way, but I think this sheds some interesting light on how we move through our disease journey.
When we first discover we have RA, it is still very alien to us. We most likely know very little about it, how it will change our lives or how we will manage it; from treatment to daily life modifications, etc.
So, it seems to me we take no “ownership” at that point as we are just getting to know what RA is AND is not. So at this point we still refer to it as a disease called RA. This stage is still very tentative and preliminary.
But, somewhere along the line, as we become more immersed in the management of and day to day life with RA, it changes. Now, we refer to it as “MY RA”. I noticed this most recently during one of our RA Support Group meetings when we were discussing treatment options. For instance, one of us would say “well we have chosen to treat “my RA” with Orencia” while another person might say “my physician and I have decided to go after “my RA” with Remicade. Or when talking about flares we would say “my RA” flares are so intense.
By definition my means relating to me as possessor or agent, belonging to or associated with myself.
This is interesting to me because I think it speaks to making progress. Once you accept the diagnosis and begin the process of management, you have taken a huge step forward. Accepting the reality of a chronic disease and it’s very personal impact on you, means it has now become part of your life, and is, in fact, your RA.
Why does this matter? Well first of all it is a significant emotional and psychological hurdle to get to the place of acceptance. I think by referring to it as “my RA”, we are signifying, whether we realize it or not, that RA is here to stay and now we need to move forward with how to cope with it. Once there, you can progress to truly managing this chronic disease with all of it many twists and turns.
Secondly, by embracing, if you will, your RA, and actually taking ownership, I believe your decisions become more thoughtful. You spend more time considering your own unique circumstances, options, etc. This is crucial to successfully managing RA. By understanding the uniqueness of this disease, you can think more strategically about how best to proceed. You have taken possession of the disease. Now you can decide how to best manage it.
Actively engaging in managing RA
Third, I know, without a doubt, that “my RA” is mine alone. All the eventual decisions rest with me. I will certainly involve lots of others in my circle of support in providing advice, assistance, etc. but in the final analysis it is up to me how to live with “my RA”. Just as we refer to our partners or spouses as my husband/wife, my partner, etc. it speaks to a level of intimacy and knowledge that is only there because of that little pronoun and all that it implies.
Once I came to terms with “my RA”, I was ready to go forward and live the reality of it, make the decisions necessary to thrive despite it, and continue to live a life of joy and positivity.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?