What Does Successful RA Management Look Like?

So there is no lack of amazing and informative articles, blogs, research, posts, books, etc. that offer suggestions and advice about how to successfully manage RA.  I happily admit I have written some myself.  So, how then, does one sift through all of this valuable information?  How does one decide how to become “successful” at managing RA?

For the most part, I believe that success is personally and individually defined.  There are some guiding principles of success like progress, goals met, etc. but for the purposes of this discussion, I want to address the personal nature of it.

Achieving success for the self

How do we achieve success in our own eyes, which, let’s be clear, is vitally important.  It seems to me, that we need to reflect on this very question and with the input of all the various sources mentioned above, begin to shape our own sense of success.  Each RA patient has their own medical profile with their own individual approach to treatment.  Likewise, each RA patient has their own successful management profile.  That makes perfect sense given the wide-ranging variations in the manifestation, intensity, and course of the disease.  It is a true disservice to ourselves, to subscribe to a cookie cutter success profile rather than develop our own unique one, filled with the nuances each of us experiences.

In the many conversations I have had with thousands of others with RA, I have come to understand that each one of us has our own sense of successfully managing RA.  For example, for me, including regular movement/exercise is a key barometer in declaring some level of success.  That may well not be true for someone else who feels that they cannot even begin to consider movement goals right now.  Likewise, being personally well informed about the latest research into RA remains a management goal of mine.  Yet, I know many who prefer to leave that to their trusted physicians or other members of their medical team and do not feel a need to spend their time on that particular piece.

The definition of success changes throughout one's RA journey

Which brings me to another aspect of success.  What defines success at one point in time may totally change.  Success is not a static determination but rather shifts as the disease does.  I have certainly added elements to my success profile as time has gone on.  In fact, I am certain that what constituted successful management of RA in the early stages of the disease for me would be quite different than my success profile would be today.  That is partly because our needs change over time.  Initially, my needs were pretty direct and concrete.  I wanted relief from the pain and other symptoms of RA.  I felt successful once that was accomplished.  As time has gone on, I have broadened my view of what successful management means.  For some folks, that relief is so elusive that it remains their first and almost exclusive RA management gauge of success.

The point is, each of us needs to take the time to really personalize our success profile so that it truly reflects what our needs and goals are, not someone else’s.  By doing this, you will find a level of satisfaction and comfort that will be with you throughout your RA journey.


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