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Giving Thanks, RA Style

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.

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.


  • Angela Lundberg
    2 months ago

    Wonderful article, Tamara! I’m thankful to know YOU. Thank you for continuing to share your RA story and journey with such honesty and thoughtfulness. Hang in there, girl. 🙂

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 months ago

    Oh, thank YOU Angela for your kind comment, your wonderful articles, and for helping our community be the helpful place it is.

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    2 months ago

    @tamarswan Tamara, you brought tears to my eyes reading this. It’s important to be reminded of everything we should be thankful for despite RA. I’m thankful for many things but being a part of this community is one thing I am beyond thankful for. It has been a bright spot in my life when my days were darkest. I have been truly blessed now that I am able to reach out in new ways to members, another thanksgiving. And I’m thankful for Contributors like yourself who inspire, inform and make me laugh despite RA. So thank you once again and Tamara and Happy Thanksgiving,

    CynthiaV, Site Moderator

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks so much for these very kind words, Cynthia, and for sharing your “thankful” list!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 months ago

    I will add that I am grateful for most of those tings. The diagnosis in 2000 is one of mine as well. But the thing I can add to your list is Sheryl. Without her, I would not have made it this far.

    I am pretty sure she would say she is thankful when I am not here. See its mutual. 🙂

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