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Shut the front door!

I have always lived with the credo that as one door closes another one opens.  This has proven true on so many levels throughout my journey with RA.  For instance, I clearly recall that when I was first diagnosed I thought not one, but many, doors had closed!  In fact I felt like I was trapped behind those closed doors and I might never emerge again.  Those early feelings of isolation, disillusionment, despair and fear are so real and so keen that it can be paralyzing to a newly diagnosed RA patient.

I believe it is perhaps the most critical time in the course of this disease and the one that most often “keeps us behind closed doors”.  It took time, support from family, friends, my  medical team and my own resolve to shove open that first door and move forward.  When I initially heard the news and began to comprehend the full nature of RA it was a lot to digest and to be honest I was discouraged and unsure about what lay ahead.  The questions are many and they still keep coming to this day.  That, however, is the key that unlocks the many doors. Instead of allowing myself to settle into a state of isolation I began to slowly pass through door after door after door.

Each door has its’ own special title. Knowledge, acceptance, resiliency, fear and resolve are just a few that we pass through.  Each door opens at its’ own pace.  There is no set timeline for which one will be in my path next or when or even if I choose that door.  What I do know is that each time I close a door behind me I feel like I have learned some great lessons, acquired some new RA management tools and I am getting stronger!

Some doors open a lot more easily than others.  For instance I am the type of person that when I get news of any kind, in this case RA, I have to learn all I can about it.  So once I “went through the door of acceptance” I began to investigate and learn everything I could about RA.  Arming myself with the facts and getting clear and accurate information is crucial to successfully moving forward with any chronic disease and RA is no exception. That served me well and even helped me to push through some of the more difficult “doors” like fear and exercise!

The doors each of us choose and the pace and way we move through the doors of RA are totally unique to each of us.  Just as I have yet to encounter the same disease path in any two RA patients, this journey we take and course we choose (or that chooses us) will be individual and personal.  I think that is actually as it should be.

Some doors will need to be “reopened”.  For instance treatment is a perfect example.  You may go through that door and think you are all set and on your way and then much to your surprise (although you will eventually realize this is par for the course) that treatment door starts to close and you are struggling to get through it.  Well, there is more than one treatment “door” and you just have to open it and head right in!

Knowing I can pick and choose which doors to open and when affords me some very much appreciated control!  So often with a chronic disease like RA, elements are beyond our control. RA by its’ very nature is chaotic and unpredictable.  Anytime I can find even a small piece of it I can control I embrace it!  So today I headed through the resolve door as I made up my mind to get back on track with my exercising after nearly a month of health issues that have kept that door locked!

Unlocking and passing through the varied doors we face while managing RA can be a challenging but ultimately satisfying and worthwhile adventure!  Take out those keys and start heading through the doors of your life.  Sunshine, joy and adventure are just beyond the threshold!

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.


  • Cassandra Bird
    5 years ago

    Great write up again Nan, thank you. Still yet to come out of the year from hell as RA has swept thru my body. I’m 37 now and I really hope its not too long before I can unlock that door too. Swimming is something I would like to do all day every day since getting this disease, so far I’m unable to leave the house without someone’s help. Looked at scooters and wheelchairs today, never thought I’d be so excited to accept a wheelchair but I know it’s the only way I will ever regain my mobility. Good luck x

  • elisee55
    5 years ago

    Thanks for this. I recently discovered these articles on Facebook. I was diagnosed with RA about six months ago, but have not yet found a treatment that I respond to. When is it safe to exercise? I see lots if references to ‘not during flares’ but my life has been one big flare since 2012. It is so hard todo much at all. I also have spinal disk disease so my back is very painful. In addition, I already have severe osteoporosis. I’m am 54. So…. Any ideas for exercise? Or should I wait until I get things more under control?

  • Nan Hart moderator author
    5 years ago

    Elise thanks so much for responding. As to when or whether and what with regard to exercise that really is a discussion you should have (request robustly) with your physician. I can only tell you my experience and I find that exercising in the water is a great place to start, even when flaring. Thanks to the joint neutral nature of water, gentle movements are possible in the water that might not be on land! I have become and avid swimmer, doing laps, strength training and jogging in the water. That said, when I am in a “mighty” flare I back off of most exercise and count myself lucky to just be up and walking around. Do not ever feel you have to live up to someone else’s expectations. RA is very chaotic and individual in the way it manifests and you need to find the best course of action for you. Due to your various health conditions suggest water therapy to your physician and see what he thinks. Sometimes doctors are reluctant to suggest it if they think their patients would not be responsive so if it comes from you as a goal you have that will open the door for that discussion! Best of luck and please check in and chat anytime.

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