Rheumatoid Arthritis Heroes Everywhere

Last year for Christmas, my best friend gave me a book of inspirational quotes about gratitude. I keep it on my coffee table, and every few days I open it up. This morning, I read, “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.- Meister Eckhart.”

It got me thinking about all the people over the course of my life that have inspired me, the kindness I’ve received from so many, and the list kept growing. It also made me realize something. It’s hard to be cynical about human nature when every day someone is reaching out his/her hand to help.

The social support of loved ones

A few months ago my 80-year-old Dad and my 78-year-old Mom helped me through surgery, waking up at insanely early hours to take me to the hospital, driving through traffic that made me groan out loud as they were trying to cheer me up, walking me to the bathroom in the middle of the night when I was dizzy, missing social engagements to be in the house with me, and never complaining even when I had no problem complaining to them much of the day.

Personal heroes who support and check on me

According to Dictionary.com, a hero is "a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal." What my parents just did for me fits that definition as far as I’m concerned.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I have little heroes everywhere. I have friends and family texting and checking in on a daily basis, which reminds me how cared for I am. I have people who will stop what they are doing and take time out of their day to make a positive difference in mine, and that makes me feel loved.

Support, social distancing, and isolation

In the midst of a world of pandemic fears, quarantine, and toilet paper hoarding, it can seem like we are becoming more isolated, and in some ways we are. Social distancing has changed the way we relate to each other and the world. But, as my friend Daniel recently pointed out, people with chronic illnesses have so much experience with isolation that we can show others how it’s done.

RA has taught us about strength & resilience

It’s funny how hardship in life gives so many useful life skills. Resilience can grow after hardship, and chronic illness is a great way to build resilience. The resilience and inner strength that is gained after living with RA give us an opportunity. We can be grateful for the strength rheumatoid arthritis has given us, and grateful for the help we’ve received along the way. And we can use this strength and knowledge to help others right now.

We can provide support through these unsettling times

In this time of fear and panic, with bad news coming in from every direction, maybe it’s time we lead the way through. We can pick up the phone and recommend good books and shows to our bored friends who are stuck in their houses: the number of days we have spent in our houses dealing with flares and fatigue has given us ample opportunity to read and watch TV.

We can send words of encouragement to the people in our lives who aren’t handling the current worldwide uncertainty very well, because we live with uncertainty and have so much practice keeping our anxiety at bay. Many of us have had to learn how to live with little, because RA is so expensive and has to take priority. We can counsel friends about how to adapt to less income.

We can be rheumatoid arthritis heroes.

 

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