How Much Is Too Much with RA?
I feel like throughout my journey with RA, this question haunts me as one of the most difficult. Often, I have had to ask this when it comes to so many different aspects of the disease.
How much is too much?
For instance, how much is too much when it comes to medications to alleviate pain, swelling, anxiety, erosions, etc. Be it over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed, the decisions are many and challenging, to say the least.
I have found that consulting closely with my care team is essential to making the best decision. Additionally, I try to do some independent research so that I am well-informed for discussions with those involved in determining the best course of action.
It is not easy balancing what works, what does not, the potential side effects, how the various choices interact, etc. Then trying to decide how much is too much becomes yet another consideration.
RA requires trial and error
Over the years, I have discovered that there is no set formula for answering that question. Rather, it is a bit of trial and error - something I am not fond of by any means. Truth be told, even from one circumstance to another, the answer changes.
For instance, I try to avoid taking ibuprofen as much as possible because it is tough on my stomach. There was a time when that was not an issue, but it is now. However, I had a hamstring injury that simply would not respond to anything else, so I bit the bullet and took it daily for 6 weeks.
I did so with all types of caution and careful planning with my physician and PT as to when to take it, etc. I kept my eye out for any adverse reactions as well. That seemed to work. So, in this case, I was able to manage my dosage, figure out how much was too much, and it all worked out.
Where do I draw the line?
Another example of confronting this question is exercise. That is actually how I injured my hamstring. I did too much and paid a hefty price. Even after 20 plus years of managing RA, it is still a challenge to figure out where to draw the line, how to stay physically active, and yet do so without injury.
I am very aware of modifying my exercises to accommodate my joints. But somehow, I forgot to account for other body parts that could be overused. In other words, I did too much.
Social activities are another one of those areas where I have to stop and ask myself how much is too much. It is so easy to just continue to accept invitations, host get-togethers, etc. because they provide food for our souls.
Being selective with my time and energy
But, our RA bodies sometimes cannot handle the intensity of time and effort that these demand. We end up exhausted (mentally and physically), in worse shape, and now unable to even function on a daily basis. I have learned to be much more conservative and selective with how much, for how long, and which social activities I will participate in.
It is clear from just these few examples that "how much is too much" is not easy to determine, but perhaps the key is to practice caution and consideration in order to guard against overdoing it. By carefully reviewing choices, we can decide just how much is just right.
When was your last flare?