Having RA Does Not Mean We Are Not Whole

I keenly remember a time, especially early in the course of my rheumatoid arthritis (RA), when it hit me that I was feeling less than whole as a result of this disease. 

Truth be told, I still struggle with it from time to time.

My definition of being whole

For me, being whole meant having all of my physical abilities and few, if any, limitations. 

It meant not having to consider adjusting social engagements, travel decisions, exercise choices, and job options, just to name a few. 

Prior to RA, the world was my oyster, as they say. The only pills I took were supplements. The worst treatment I underwent was a root canal. 

I truly was shattered by the impact of RA on my life and my image of wholeness. Suddenly, I was in a million pieces, only held together by the latest medication I was taking.

Pieces that no longer fit together

My life was now anchored to regular visits to my rheumatologist and any other specialist I might need to see - from orthopedists to physical therapists to surgeons.

My daily schedule was always prepared with an eye to the state of my RA. In simplest terms, it dominated my life, making me feel like I was split into a hundred puzzle pieces that no longer fit together.

I needed to reclaim my wholeness

To add to the loss, I felt depressed at times, anxious most of the time, and oh - the fatigue. 

It was time to take stock if I really wanted to have any kind of a joyful life. 

I needed to reclaim my wholeness! At some point, and to be honest, I am not sure what predicated it, I had an epiphany about my life with RA - to be more specific, my sense of not being whole anymore and the need to address it.

How I assessed areas of my life

I spent some serious time carefully and methodically examining each of the areas or “puzzle pieces.” How could I reassemble them to make myself whole again

Intense self-examination

It started with some pretty intense self-examination. What exactly did I need to do to feel better about my life? I started to consider not what I had lost, but what I still had in my life. 

I had a great job, an amazing support system of medical, personal, and professional people and I had my own will to turn this around. I went from feeling self-pity to feeling hopeful, looking forward and not back. 

I decided that a positive approach would serve me much better than wallowing in my losses. Simply repeating these affirmations every day helped me turn things around.

Explore new opportunities

I also decided to consider what new opportunities I could explore to replace those that could no longer be part of my life. 

For instance, I gave up running and took up Tai Chi and walking. I gave up tennis and took up swimming. These are sports I likely would never have attempted had it not been for RA.

Meditation

I started to meditate. I cannot tell you how much this helped to shape my daily perspective. 

To this day, meditation is my solace. Again, I would likely never have gone there had it not been for the trials and tribulations of RA.

There's more to me than my RA

Gradually, I began to feel my wholeness return. The puzzle pieces began to fit together. I discovered that I was so much more than my RA. I was a whole, complete, productive, and happy person. 

I can only tell you that all of the time and effort it took were 100 percent worth it and I recommend it to anyone who is feeling less than whole from their RA.

Nan

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