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.

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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 rheumatoidarthritis.net 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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