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How Not to Cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lately, people have been asking a lot how I cope with RA and the host of adorable secondary conditions that come with it. Well, here’s my answer: I just do! Awesome! Talk soon.

Hmmm, you’re still here? Don’t you have some jigsaws to puzzle or physical to therapy? You want more? FINE-UH! I suppose, “I just do,” doesn’t really do much for anyone who legitimately wants to know, and frankly, it doesn’t do much for me either. I guess we’ll spend some time unpacking just what goes into coping with that wonderful constellation of symptoms and conditions that make up rheumatoid arthritis, and what “just doing it” really means.

How do I cope with RA? I just do!

If I’m being honest, though, I wasn’t kidding when I said, “I just do.” I think anyone who has suffered with chronic illness for long enough knows exactly what I mean when I say that. It’s the same reason people still watch The Walking Dead even though the show has clearly jumped the shark – we just do because that’s what we’ve been doing forever (or at least it feels like it). Having to actually dissect what goes into those coping skills (and TV watching habits) is a bit more difficult. I think the first thing to address rather than how, is why.

Adapting to RA is something you have to do

Over the years, I’ve been called many things – hero, inspiration, a rock, and, of course, modest (duh). All of those are inevitably followed by that phrase we’ve all heard, “I don’t think I could do it if I was in your shoes,” or something close. I usually just smile and say thanks as if someone just called me “Dennis” by mistake, but in my head I’m always thinking, “Yes, you could do it because you’d have to.”

What other choice do I have?

Seriously, what’s the other option for me or anyone who has chronic illness? Roll over and stick my arms and legs in the air like a dead looney tunes character? Say, “Screw this!” and squeeze my buns together so hard that the RA just squirts right out of my ears? Dip myself in a tub of essential oils and walk around all glistening and slippery? Well, maybe that last one, but only for fun! Certainly not for dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. The fact is that any human who gets RA must deal with it, there’s no way around it, and you would too. It’s what humans do: we adapt, and it’s nothing special.

We manage RA using methods that work for us

Now that we’ve gotten the why out of the way, we can get down to some of the how. Each of us has our own ways of coping and the specifics vary as much as people’s preference for Coke and Pepsi. (Obviously, Coke is superior in every single way and only people who like flat brown juice that tastes like poison filtered through an old sock drink Pepsi, but no judgment.) Whether it’s heat or cold, meds or acupuncture, Coke or poison, I mean Pepsi, the overall approach is always the same – we do whatever works.

“Yeah, but what works for you?”

“Yeah, but what works for you?” I hear you asking somehow through the internet. Well, what works for me is a combination of a few things. First, there’s pain meds, then sometimes I also use pain meds, and even on occasion I mix in some pain meds when it gets really bad. One time, I decided to be adventurous and I tried some pain meds!

Sorry, but there is only one thing that really works well enough for me to be considered a remedy – pain meds. How do I know this? Well, because in the thirty-some-odd years I’ve dealt with RA, I’ve tried everything out there. No, really, I mean everything. Don’t believe me? Well let’s go through the list, shall we?

Different things I’ve tried for my RA

Acupuncture

I’ve tried acupuncture. It didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong: if you like sitar music, plastic ferns and babbling brook sounds played from an Amazon Alexa speaker, then great, you do you. Unfortunately, lying down in that darkened room I couldn’t relax. All I kept thinking about was the $125 bucks I just spent to have a full MD doctor tell me I was “so young” to have RA. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Besides, I had already had so many needles poked into me that I am legitimately classified as an archery target for insurance purposes.

Various diets

Next, I tried diets upon diets upon diets. No tomato diet, no artificial anything diet, no sugar diet, no gluten diet, no wheat diet, and the no food diet. None of them did anything for me, and I know I’m going to get some angry comments saying, “But the turnip diet worked for me!” and that’s wonderful for you and the turnips but all that dieting never did anything but make me hungry and frustrated. Hungerated. Frusturungry?… Frungry! That’s the one.

I was definitely frungry, and that word I didn’t just makeup is the only thing that resulted from all that dieting. Besides, do you know how difficult it is to find something with no artificial ingredients, no tomatoes, no sugar, and no wheat at a restaurant? Keep in mind this was years ago before everyone went free-trade organically crazy. I’d order a water and…a lettuce leaf. Hold the flavor. Ugh.

Coping with RA is a personal journey

Copper bracelets, yoga, hot yoga, goat yoga, hot goat yoga – look, here’s the bottom line: coping with RA is as personal as your underwear – you wear what makes you comfortable and the only ones you show to people are the ones you want them to see (hopefully not on laundry day). Meditation, medication, elevation, delectation or vacation – it doesn’t matter.

Whatever helps you, do that

I know you are probably thinking, “Well this post didn’t help me at all,” but that’s kind of the point. Try anything you think will help, and whatever helps YOU, do THAT. I can’t choose for you, but I can tell you that the only person who can figure it out is the one who knows the most about your body. I’m talking about you. Yes you, the me reading this right now. That being said, I may not know how you’ll do it, but I can absolutely assure you that you will do it. Cope, that is, because unless you want to simply give up and lock yourself away like some RApunzel (see what I did there), you’ll have to find a way to live life. Talk soon.

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

  • sassypants
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the humor. I really needed it today. I was just diagnosed-I knew but NOW I “know”. I have been saying the same thing for years in my own way. I just keep on doing life because I am not ready for them to kick dirt on me yet.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    @sassypants First off, I love the sn – sassy pants are the best kind of pants in my book. You keep on keepin’ on doing life because exactly that – we aren’t ready to not do it any more just yet! Also, as Kelly said below, reach out any time! 🙂 Thanks for reading! DPM

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for commenting sassypants. Glad this brought a smile to your face. Please reach out anytime. Hope that our community can be a source of helpful info and support to you. Best, Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net team member

  • Casmere
    1 month ago

    @Daniel Malito: As usual a great article. what else can we do but manage our RA with what works for us individually. For me it is pain meds, pain meds and some RA MEDS plus a heating pad.

    About 2 months ago my heating pad quit. Actually, was my daughters one and a good one, so I didn’t know how to tell her. I searched online and in stores for the same one, but to no avail. I suffered with my back pain during this time. I finally broke down and told her and that I couldn’t find one like it. She said, “oh well, throw it out then” duh.

    I was suffering to much so went to my local small town drug store and bought one. Ahhh…I have heat for my back. So great.

    I always enjoy your articles Daniel, they are so true to life for us people with RA and give info that is relevant for us. Thank you for being you.

    Regards,

    Casmere

    Blessings to you and everyone.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @casmere My heating pad smell perpetually like cat pee because my little cat decided that one day it belongs to him and decided to hose it down. Unfortunately it was on at the time and basically cooked in the smelly goodness right to the plastic. So, yeah, fun times every time I turn it on! Ha ha. Now I have to get another one too! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, and for reading! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Jcloft
    1 month ago

    Thanks for this Daniel! My aunt likes to ask me how I cope every time she sees me. Sometimes I get annoyed and bite back “I have no choice!” Nice to know I’m not alone. Always enjoy your writing!

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @jcloft Yes, I know that feeling for sure. You are most definitely not alone! Sometimes I say it and then I feel bad I said it because people get confused or upset. LOL. We do what we can! Right? Thanks for reading! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    1 month ago

    Another grand slam DPM. As usual, hilariously funny and true. We survive because we must. That is truly the bottom line or the line in the sand or the line for the Lotto machine, whatever. We all know the alternative and I’m not having any of that though the Looney Tunes solution did somewhat resonant with me. Thanks for keeping it all in perspective. Oh and btw, Coke no Pepsi. But now every time I see a Pepsi can I won’t be able to think of anything other than flat brown juice filtered through an old sock…eeeek! Thanks for that pal…

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @cynthiav Mmmmm. Fresh dirty sock filtered Pepsi. It’s the choice of a new generation. Ha ha. Thanks for reading as always! 🙂 Keep on keepin’ on DPM

  • NPEOttawa
    1 month ago

    Part of how I cope is by reading articles like this. Thank-you.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @npeottawa Thank you, that’s one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me for my writing. It makes it worth it even more when I know people are actually getting something from it. Thanks for reading, truly. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    Is locking my self up in a tower an option? My wife says it is not, but then again she also says i need to pick up my toys before bed. Psst, I never agreed to that.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    1 month ago

    @lawrphil Tower, no, toys, yes. I say. You leave those legos out for everyone to step on. I mean, if they can’t feel like us, then what’s the point! Ha ha. Thanks for reading, as always Lawrence. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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