One thing I have learned over the years, and this is especially true as I get older, is the necessity to do a “body inspection” pretty regularly. Think about your car and the annual inspection or tune-up you get for it. I think we need to give our bodies at least the same attention we give our vehicles!
Yet, for many of us, we simply wait until something happens that demands we attend to it when it comes to our bodies.
Why are body checks helpful?
I know when I was younger, I rarely did any kind of body check. I remember one time I had a rash that my mom noticed before I did! That was not uncommon at that stage of my life. Fast forward to my forties when I was diagnosed with RA. I was not especially in tune with my body and that likely contributed to my lack of attention to some of the early symptoms. I simply blew them off as just a temporary issue and not something that a doctor needed to hear about.
When I did go see a doctor, it was only after the pain, redness and swelling in my joints had become intolerable. I had ignored some of the early fatigue and muscle weakness, etc. that were, in fact, a prelude to a flare. Of course, now I am well aware and most of us are to those early signs.
My self assessment for rheumatoid arthritis
Starting my days by checking RA symptoms
With that in mind, today I am very much aware of any changes, good or bad, that my body encounters. I literally do “joint check” before I get out of bed each morning and often as I head to sleep at night. When I am experiencing that annoyance, we all call “brain fog”, I try to step back and slow down in the hopes I can curtail a flare. The same is true of feeling fatigue. When that hits, I know that a flare could be close behind so I try to be careful about my activity level.
Being aware of any irregularities with your body
Beyond the RA signals, we need to be aware of any new changes in our bodies. Because of the many co-morbidities that can go along with RA, we need to pay attention to other signals. For instance, my skin and eyes became very dry after RA entered my life and I discovered that I had Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that is characterized by extreme dryness.
Reflux, often a side effect of the many medications we take, can be very painful and limiting and could lead to ulcers if left untreated. Beyond these are may other conditions related to RA, making the need to be in tune with our bodies that much more crucial to out overall health.
The importance of self assessments
Beyond RA, there are just bodily changes that occur as we age, a fun fact I am discovering virtually every day now that I am 65. Many of these are annoying but harmless and need not induce panic or a late-night visit to the ER.
But I keep a list and take it with me to my next doctor visit, where I can review it and ensure all is well, or there may be a need to test further. Either way, I am doing the best I can to make sure I do my body inspections on a regular basis! Yet another way to manage our RA.
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