Person lounging outside in the sunset as neighbors wave and water splashes in the water fountain nearby

To My RA, Thank You!!!

The uninvited house guest. I have for years compared my arthritis to an uninvited houseguest that just won’t leave. I never invited RA to come into my life. Honestly, even after 16 years, I would love for the uninvited guest to leave. However, that is not my reality.

I've gotten used to rolling with my disease

I never planned for it. Every single day of my life, I never know what havoc my house guest will bring to my day. It brings to me an unpredictable life full of swelling, chronic pain, unbearable fatigue, decreased ability to think and function, and so much more.

I have gotten so used to just rolling with my disease. RA is, by its nature, a very unpredictable disease. I have become used to just taking one day at a time and, at times, one minute at a time.

Life unplanned

However, I was attending a meeting in June of 2020 and came across someone in my life who was extremely frazzled. I could tell they were going through something. I just sat and listened to them. I was careful not to chime in because I truly believe that everyone needs their time to express their feelings.

The person verbalized that they were not going to apologize for their feelings. They were very upset about people who reach out for help randomly. This person literally could not deal and I could see was almost paralyzed by the fact that something was being asked of them, that was not planned.

Thank you, RA!

It was at that moment, and for the first time in my life, that I was thankful for my uninvited house guest. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. At that moment I wasn’t focusing on what I perceived as the bad things my RA has brought to my life. Instead, I was focusing on the positive things in my life, because of my uninvited house guest.

4 positive attributes I've developed due to RA

1. Appreciate the simple things

I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life. I am thankful, like I've never been before, to walk outside in the sunshine. I enjoy getting out into nature. I can sit outside without an electronic device and just close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, hear the birds chirp, and hear the movement of the water.

2. Patience

Through the last 16 years, I have learned that answers to medical symptoms and prayers do not always come immediately. Sometimes the fast solution is not always the best solution longterm. You cannot rush things in life. Sometimes, the best things come with time and unplanned.

3. Adaptability

I honestly have become like a chameleon. I can adjust quickly to anything that life throws at me.

One day I am physically able to stand and prepare a meal, and the next day I am unable to. I live by myself, so I have to adapt and think quickly on my feet. I live on a limited budget so having food delivered is not always an option. Those are the days I have a bowl of cereal. It may not be what I want, but it is what has to be done.

I really find that there is a valuable lesson in that. Life isn’t always about living what we plan for. Find joy even in those undesirable moments.

4. Resilience

No matter what life throws my way, I am able to step back and think about it. My RA has afforded me the opportunity to not just react emotionally to situations. I’ve learned to get done what needs to get done and process the rest later.

RA has given me limited energy to worry about the insignificant things in life. I aim to live my day the best I can and try to help at least one person each day. Above all else, I “just keep swimming.”

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