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.

Nan

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 (6)
  • rockcandi
    7 months ago

    I definitely agree that definition of success changes over and throughout each persons RA journey. During my first horrible flare of adulthood it was all about fatigue/weakness. Now that I’m a 36 year old with a very active two year old boy whom I try very hard to keep up with, that lack of strength is a big deal but what’s screaming at me more now is the pain. I used to pay a lot of attention to meds but when I came (finally) to a rheumy that I trust to be knowledgeable about the meds and my individual needs I’ve now left that up to her.

  • Alesandra Bevilacqua moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi @rockcandi! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to hear you resonate with this article! We appreciate you sharing with us. Warmly, Alesandra (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    7 months ago

    Nan I could not agree more. Success for me has changed a lot over the years. It seems to me that success can be defined in large part by our life station. My father used to view success as going to work at 4 AM. Then in his 50’s he defined it as sleeping in until 4:30 AM. Before his death he defined success as staying awake past midnight, then of course being up at 4 AM and ready for a great nap at 8:30 AM.

    You have to love a man who understands success.

  • Nan Hart author
    7 months ago

    Your story of you father is so interesting Rick and I completely understand your point about one’s station in life. Defining success in management is indeed a personal one.

  • Jo J
    7 months ago

    Nan, a great prompt for us all to ask ourselves, “What would success look like today and in a week?” (or month, year)

    For me, because I am in a flare and changing meds, daily and weekly are the healthiest increments to hope and plan for success.
    Thanks!
    Jo

  • Nan Hart author
    7 months ago

    Jo your ideas on the frequency are very interesting. I see your point completely. Best to you.

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