Find a Creative Way to Cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Last updated: December 2021

So, you probably don’t know this since I don’t write about it much, but my husband is a man for which I will sing praises until the end of time. He is my rock in which without him, I don’t think I’d survive life with rheumatoid disease (RD).

That being said, I got it into my head that I would surprise him by completing the next part of the deck journey while he was at work.

My husband and I have been needing to clean and stain our deck, honestly, for a few years now. (I know, don’t judge). He has been busy with other projects, work, and the whole parenting thing so it has continually been put on the bottom of the list.

Anyhow, the other day he got around to lugging out the power washer and officially getting the project started.

Imagining my life without rheumatoid arthritis

I imagined myself getting up the next morning - starting with a strong cup of joe (duh!) - and tackling that deck with all the muster and vigor akin to that of my children.

In my head, I literally pictured each step and truly believed with my whole heart that for him, I could totally nail this. The reality was (as I am sure you can imagine) pretty different.

Have you ever done that though?

Have you imagined your world without rheumatoid arthritis?

Perhaps you’ve imagined what you would be capable of?

What would life look like?

Honestly, I’ve lived days and days in this cycle of pretending in my head that I don’t have RD. If I don’t think about it, if I (try to) ignore it, then it simply doesn’t exist. It isn’t there.

Somehow, I can briefly talk myself into believing it is a simple issue of mind over matter. But pretending I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis will only get me so far.

With focus, I can make it all go away

In my mind’s eye, I can see myself plowing through my to-do list like a boss. I convince myself that I will resolutely ignore any and all symptoms including the fatigue and pain that claws at my body.

If I just focus hard enough, I can make it all go away. If I don’t give it attention, then it will disappear.

Pretending can only get me so far

I know. I must be pretty gifted if I can "ignore" the pain and stiffness. Or, perhaps, I must be totally mental if I can turn a blind eye to my fatigue or pretend my hearing loss doesn’t exist.

So along I go through life, over several weeks, continuing to stick my head in the sand. Before you know it, here comes my RD, back to bite me in the a*s all over again.

We all need creative ways to cope

Some might say it is a coping mechanism, and I suppose they’d be right. After all, I do like to keep a whole arsenal of coping mechanisms in my back pocket.

Because really, you never know day-to-day what you might get so having a variety of ways to cope just makes sense. After all, NOT coping isn’t really an option, right?

In my ridiculous (and admittedly a bit crazy) mind, I think that if I just love my family enough, then I can push aside the pain and fatigue. Then I can be a "normal" mom. Like, if I just closed off that part of my awareness, then I can just keep going.

Not giving RA my mental attention

Many people will likely tell me that pretending I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis is absolutely ridiculous and actually downright impossible. Others might say it is a sign of true mental health issues and they are probably right.

But they perhaps also underestimate my hardheadedness and sheer determination. Not that I can actually "will" my RD away - more like there are just some days when I must avoid giving it the mental attention it typically screams for.

And in doing that, sometimes I can make it to the end of my day. After all, isn’t that what it is all about?

What are some perhaps strange or unusual things you do to cope with the intersection of life and rheumatoid disease/arthritis?

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