Starting over and over and over

It is all coming back to me now. Remember when we were youngsters and our parents, teachers, coaches, etc. would instruct us to “do that over”?  Most of the time that was greeted with a groan and a question back “do I have to?” Rarely were we happy to be told to “whatever” over again since that meant one of several things. 1) We did not do it right the first time. 2) We did not meet the expectations of the person telling us to “do it over”. 3) We needed to do it over as a means of practicing or getting more proficient in whatever the activity – anything from making our beds, to writing a paragraph to shooting hoops.

Perhaps all of those times we “started over” were preparation for that reality in coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Truth be told, all those times I started over may well have given me the necessary skills to do that in the management of RA. Stop to think about how many times throughout the course of your journey with RA you have been forced to start over. Anytime you move on from one medication to the next because it failed to adequately treat the disease you are “starting over”. Anytime you must forego a type of exercise because it has begun to damage your joints or worsen symptoms you are “starting over”. Anytime you have to change your plans for a trip because the one you hoped to do just will not work with your RA you are “starting over”. Anytime you have to adjust how you perform daily living tasks like carrying groceries, cooking, cleaning, bathing, getting dressed, etc., you are “starting over”. Anytime you step away from one career to choose another because RA has made it impossible to continue doing what you previously did you are “starting over”. Anytime you have to restructure your holidays and how often, when and where you socialize because RA has made those moments a lot less spontaneous you are “starting over”.

These are just a few examples of how we all have to “start over” thanks to this chronic and chaotic disease.  I never realized how something that I found so annoying as a child may well prove to be an invaluable tool as an adult handling RA.

If there is one attribute that is essential with RA it is resiliency.  Being told to do something over and over builds that in all of us. My handwriting was barely legible as a child. Teachers used to make me do my cursive letter writing pages over and over so that they would at least be legible. Although my handwriting is still not pretty (I blame that on being a lefty AND having RA) it IS legible – partly thanks to the determined efforts of my teachers. I was an avid field hockey player in my youth and I recall being told to do various drills over and over which led, not surprisingly to me being a better and more skillful player. And so now as a person with RA, when I am forced, by the nature or course of this disease, to “start over” it comes a little more naturally to me than it might have if I was not resilient, once again thanks in part to “starting over and over and over”.  Who knew that doing something grudgingly and not with a smile on our faces as kids would serve us well in our journey with RA?  I surely did not but am happy to say it was a welcome realization.

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