Talking Back To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a thief. Over time it can rob you of your peace of mind, independence, energy, and sound sleep among other things. Pondering this too long can make even Pollyanna want to cry, so I try not to. Instead, whenever I find myself in an emotional slump, I do something that helps me to think about my RA with a defiant smile.

What do I do? It depends on how I feel. I tend to go one of three ways: Masochist, creative, or attitude. Let’s explore these further.

When I choose the masochist route I’m not trying to cause myself to suffer, I just know that what I’m choosing to do will hurt. I love to push my body but my RA often prevents me from being as active as I’d like. So, on days that I’m fed up with my painful existence but not hurting too much, I usually end up on a bike ride or walk with my dog Jasper. By now I know my pain well enough to understand when my pain will have longer term consequences (i.e. putting strain on an unstable joint is never a good idea,) and when pain is just pain, hence my choice of activities to push. If I’m in an extended flare, sometimes a bike ride, even a painful one, puts a smile on my face because I can tell myself that RA hasn’t completely stolen my ability to do what I love. A painful bike ride is hard earned, but also makes the feeling of accomplishment much greater which boosts my mood.

Being creative is a much easier way to feel good, however, so often I find having a “craft chick” day with my crafty friend Ellen is the best medicine for my emotional ails. Over the years I’ve made some really fun things when I’ve been down for extended periods of time. I’ve ended up painting rocks and t-shirts, sewing pillowcase covers from recycled clothes, and beading bracelets that I still enjoy today. And time with Ellen always ends up being fun, as we compare stories, laughing and reflecting on life.

I agree with Winston Churchill who said that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Whenever I find myself in a new RA predicament I try to change my perspective about it and this helps every time. Recently I found myself unsettled about how I was responding to a new biologic drug. It was helping my joints but I seemed to be getting ill all the time and I found myself feeling anxious and resentful. One day I decided to change my mind about my situation. I told myself, “ You decided to take this medicine. You can always decide to stop it. So, why keep worrying all the time- you already know this doesn’t help you your state of mind.” Believe it or not, I felt like a weight lifted off of me immediately and although I’ve had moments since then of anxiety about my situation, they don’t last. I ask myself, “In this moment, do you want to stop taking your medicine?” The answer is no, so I move on.

I highly recommend talking back to your rheumatoid arthritis in healthy ways. It may not change the big picture, but it will put a dent in the burden you bear. And it may just put a grin on your face as you say to yourself, “RA, I’m still in charge!”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (11)
  • thegallopinggrandma
    2 years ago

    It’s so good to come across someone with a positive attitude ! I try to make my Blogs on my RA at least humorous as at least it gets us to stay cheerful and cope better ! This coming year I am going to be even more positive, so stand back world – I’m coming !!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    A positive attitude truly can make a difference thegallopinggrandma. No really … this article looks at research that a positive attitude can have positive effects on RA: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/pain-relieving-happiness/. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • kat-elton author
    2 years ago

    Laughter is the best medicine! Stand Back World 🙂

  • Shan
    2 years ago

    I love this! Very encouraging, thank you. I’ve just been diagnosed and only been suffering since August of this year. I’ve tried to tell myself to focus on what I CAN do and not on what I can’t. I’m sorry you have suffered for so long, BUT I’m encouraged to see your positive attitude after dealing with this. I know that this is now my lot in life and although I’M not overly thrilled about it, I can allow myself to be encouraged and perhaps encourage others who will be seeing me journey through it. Blessings on you!!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Sorry to hear about the diagnosis Shan, but glad that you have sought out a community that can offer information and support. Starting with a realistic and yet positive attitude is certainly a good start. The emotional aspects of receiving a diagnosis can often be overlooked. This article from our editorial team looks at these issues: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/symptoms/depression-anxiety-and-emotional-problems/.

    If you haven’t already, you may also want to take a look at our Facebook page. It is located at https://www.facebook.com/RheumatoidArthritisDotNet/. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • kat-elton author
    2 years ago

    Hi Shan! Good job! It’s hard to be positive at times but it always feels better doesn’t it?!
    Happy Holidays
    🙂

  • 2mra
    2 years ago

    I’ve been flaring off and on for the last 10 years with severe RA, so I do know how to talk back to it. I blame it only, for invading my body 34+ years ago. No one else. As you say Kat, like a thief it continues stealing from us.

    Thanks to Andrew Lumpe, I know why none of the biologics have worked for me and many others. We are resistant to the biologics and some other meds. My Rheumy didn’t explain that reason to me. So simple to understand!

    I’ve mainly used the Masochist technique through my years of raising my kids, hubby and various pets, to push through the pain and fatigue to complete whatever chores were on my plate each day. Thank God for a year or 2 here and there, I was in remission with the old drugs which was a big relief.

    I was born creative, strong and stubborn, so that fit in well with the kids loving crafts and my hubby needing help quite often lifting things, etc. He didn’t understand RA back then. Unfortunately, the last few years I’ve lost the motivation to be creative and my strength is about as useful as a wet noodle because of RA. That hurts! But I’m still stubborn and sometimes do what I shouldn’t.

    The last 2 years have been bad for me mainly due to RA. Just this year I’ve had CTS because of RA and a Torn Rotary Cuff to boot. I started on my last hope, Xeljanz, earlier this year. It worked for about 3-4 months. Then I ended up in the ER with a bad RA and Asthma flare, fever, Pneumonia and Sepsis in September. I had ex-rays done last week and found out that I need a hip replacement SOON. I know what you mean about being fed up with RA.

    This time around I’m using Attitude. Since I was young, we’d go to my parents home for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays most times and of course, I’d always help my Mom with the meal prep, etc. Last year, my Mom’s Doctor encouraged us to put Mom in a Home, which we agreed with and did. We brought her to our place for Christmas for a few days last year. It went well although she seemed confused about where we lived and the 2 hour trip each way was too much for her.

    Anyways, I’m sticking my tongue out at RA this year. We will be visiting Mom at the Home Christmas Day. I will not be preparing the meal for our family at our home. Instead, we will be taking them all out to Swiss Chalet on the 26th for our Christmas meal. Then we’ll go back to our home and open presents and enjoy the evening together. Much easier for me. Everyone is fine with the ideas.

    Sorry that I took up so much of your space Kat but you hit it right on for me this year. Thanks so much!! I feel better about it. 🙂 Have a great Holiday season!!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi 2mra. Glad you have a plan for the holidays. You mentioned that you may need hip replacement surgery soon. Thought you might be interested in these articles from our editorial team on questions for the doctor before surgery and tips for preparing for RA surgery:

    https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/surgery/questions-to-ask-your-doctor-before-surgery/

    https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/surgery/tips-on-preparing-for-ra-surgery/.

    Have a great holiday season and keep us posted on how you are doing. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • kat-elton author
    2 years ago

    I like your attitude! There is so much to learn about RA, and so much to do when you have RA, especially when you are flaring and don’t have energy to do anything! I think you are so wise when you say this year is the year to go to the Swiss Chalet, It’s been a tough one for me too and we are headed out on Christmas too instead of doing a bi celebration at home. Have a great holiday yourself!!!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    2 years ago

    I wish I could write what I tell my RA sometimes. Fortunately, there are community standards. I do often have to tell myself a few times I can do this when I wake up (I say other things as well) but it seems to get me energy to take that first step and if I take one, how hard can the second be?

    One day, week, month year at a time.

  • kat-elton author
    2 years ago

    You said it! And sometimes a few extra adjectives help, I know this all too well Rick 🙂
    Funny, I was just saying that lately grocery shopping with my husband is the most fun I have lately. As soon as I said this I started to feel sorry at my poor, sad life until I realized that, “Heck, why not? I’ll take grocery shopping any day, at least I have something to look forward to!” One day at a time for sure! Have a great holiday Rick!

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