Giving Thanks, RA Style

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reflecting on all I am grateful for, as pertains to my life in general and also specifically life with rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease [RA/RD]. There are certainly days where it is hard to feel gratitude for anything having to do with this disease, where anything short of a cure feels like a hardship.

Practicing gratitude within rheumatoid arthritis

On those worst days, I sit with the truth of what a challenging chronic illness RA/RD is to live with. On other days, I am able to feel grateful for aspects of living with this disease that I know could be worse.

Acknowledging the various struggles of rheumatoid arthritis

Before listing these, I first want to acknowledge that everyone in our online community living with this disease has different struggles, and many are carrying burdens that I am not.

What I am grateful for

I am thankful that when I was diagnosed with RA/RD in 2000, two biologics had been invented and were on the market.

I’m grateful that by the time the first biologic I used became ineffective, other biologics had become available for me to try.

I am deeply thankful that I have a medication that my body tolerates and that does reduce my RA/RD symptoms.

I am lucky to have physical access to the infusion center where my medication is administered. This is not so for many people in the U.S. and around the world.

I am fortunate to have financial access to these incredibly expensive drugs. As flawed as I believe our health care system is, I am one of the lucky people who have health insurance and who can afford the co-pays and deductibles (or at least I have enough remaining credit to be able to put them on my credit card when my bank account can’t cover an expense).

I am thankful for movement, at whatever level I am able to achieve it on a given day. On a good day, I am grateful to bike, swim, walk, and dance. On a bad day, while any of these activities may be incredibly painful, I’m still able to limp, feed and clean myself, and talk. I am thankful I’ve never fully lost the ability to move my body.

I am grateful for each good day I get, for each event I am able to attend, for each trip I am able to take. I do not take good days for granted, and I’m grateful that a silver lining of this awful disease is appreciating things I might otherwise overlook.

I need a new word for “thankful” to express how fortunate I am in having a supportive spouse. While no marriage is easy every single day, my husband is understanding about the limitations RA/RD causes and is helpful in our family being able to navigate them. I am thankful for him every day.

I am grateful that my body was able to grow and deliver two healthy children. I wasn’t sure that it would be able to, and I’d explored adoption. I sometimes remember to marvel at what this body was able to do.

I am so fortunate that has provided me with the opportunity to share my stories. Each time a reader comments, “I thought it was just me” or “It’s so good to know I’m not alone” in response to something I’ve written, I feel grateful I have a forum to help someone going through something similar feel less alone in their challenges.

I am thankful to each of YOU for letting me know I’m not alone. I read your comments, stories, and questions, and I know that others are responding to similar challenges in similar ways. This helps me feel validated and connected. I also learn so much from our community members and all you share. Thank you so much for being here.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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