Worried looking person with their figure on the corner of their mouth in a splotchy, messy, multicolored ring of paint around them

What Will I Become?

As I approach one year mark since my RA diagnosis, I can’t help but reflect on all the changes that I have made. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, the changes have been both big and small. I can honestly say that I am the happiest I’ve been in a very long time, with stress at a minimum. There is that part of me that worries about what the future holds with this disease.

I naturally worry a lot

I am a serious worrier by nature, an inherited trait. (Thanks mom and dad!) I worry about what I can control, but even more so what I can’t. Try as I may, I know RA can’t be fully controlled. Medication, diet, stress relief, etc can help... but we all know a flare can come when we least expect it. Cue my anxiety...

I've always been concerned about my health

Even before my diagnosis, I constantly worried about my health and mortality. With every pain, I would fear that something was wrong. Chest pain = heart attack, headache = aneurysm; my anxiety was overwhelming! Knowing these things are unlikely, but I’d still worry. I was a healthy, active “30 something.” Now, I’m a 38-year-old with rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t want to stress about it anymore. When I feel pain, I try and tell myself it’s nothing. Hoping it’s not the beginning of a dreaded flare or the disease progressing.

I worry about RA progression

I worry that 10 or more years from now, I won’t be able to do the things I love to do now. The things that make me who I am. Every time I go for a run, I think to myself, “Is the pounding doing irreparable damage to my knees and feet? Am I going to severely regret this later?” When my hands feel stiff and my knuckles are swollen, I wonder, “How long can I continue in my profession?” “What will I do if I can’t continue in my field?” “If I can’t work, what will I do?” These are questions that I truly scare me because ... well, do I really want to know??

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. Not knowing can be even worse than knowing. None of us know what tomorrow may bring. Rheumatoid arthritis is different for each of us affected and, for a worrier like me, not knowing can be a very hard pill to swallow. Swallowing my actual pills is the easiest part of this illness!

How do I balance living with worrying?

What is the right answer? Do I worry about living my long term best life or do I live my best life while I can? Who knows? I’ve never been good at finding a happy medium: I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Just in this past year, though, I have learned that I am capable of growth and change. I’ve found strength within myself I didn’t know I had.

With that being said, finding that happy medium should be an easy step towards a very healthy and happy future. For now, I’ll take each day as they come. The good, bad, and everything in between.

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