alt=a man sits nervously watching friends having summer fun out the window

Summer Fun with RA

Last updated: August 2022

Swimming in the springs isn't the same when you have RA. You have to take care of yourself and your body wherever you go.

I jumped off the dock into the spring water but unfortunately hurt my ankle by awkwardly pushing off the ground to come up for air. My foot was at an awkward angle as I was coming up, and that caused immediate pain in my ankle. Alas, not even summer fun can be entirely free from RA! But thankfully, the pain didn’t last too long with some ibuprofen and rest. But that instance made me realize how much my summers have changed with RA.

Summer as a child vs. as an adult

Summer as an adult is very different than summer as a child. As a child, for me, summers were filled with endless outdoor activities, eating ice cream, and, at times, having some time to yourself to read, write, or find new hobbies. I remember one of my favorite newfound hobbies as a child was collecting rocks and doing my own at-home gem mining. This changed with adulthood as I started working full time, attending college/grad school, and pursuing other opportunities.

Chronic illness puts a damper on things

But when you have a chronic illness like RA, those summers as an adult take on a different direction. In my own experience, I’ve had RA during all the times that my summers as an adult have taken place, but I was diagnosed with RA in this weird transition between being in college and then finding a full-time job or going to graduate school.

Sure, college summers can be different, but full-time work summers are really different. Though you have less time, you also have more money, so you get more of a choice in the vacations you choose. But when you have RA, all of the fatigue, physical body pain, and more can limit when you take a vacation. In essence, vacation becomes healing time for your body.

Feeling isolated with RA

There’s a sadness that comes with the realization. I see my friends posting on social media in various locations: Europe, the beach, hiking in the mountains, halfway across the country, etc. And while I went on vacation earlier in July—to New York City to visit my best friend from college, I felt alienated from seeing my friends’ vacations because I know that even when I’m on vacation, I have to curtail my plans to listen to my body.

I can’t make the continuous trip or the agenda that runs on and on and on. I have to pause and take time to rest and not do as much. It’s not the same, and I know I shouldn’t compare myself, but it’s hard not to when you’re awash in the content on social media feeds.

Slowing down on vacation can be a good thing!

When you’re on one of your few vacation excursions and experience foot pain related to RA, these feelings become even more poignant, which I don’t like. But there’s not much I can do about it except change my frame of mind. Maybe, part of slowing down is also taking in the experience of the vacation at a deeper and more enriching level. Not having to feel like I have to do everything is a blessing, something to be thankful for. While I think this is true on some levels, it can be hard to remember them at the moment when you’re feeling insecure about your body and your experience.

I’m curious if any of you have experienced a similar feeling when the summer rolls around. Have you had any summer injuries that made you realize the intricate connections between RA and summer? Let me know!

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