It's Just Another Day, Nothing in My Way
I’m lying in my bed at home. It’s the middle of November, and the weather is chilly. The house is quiet, my roommates have all turned in for the night. Everything is normal, except for one thing. I have a cast on my arm and it’s in a sling. I still have no feeling in my arm from the nerve block, and I can feel the drowsiness of the hydrocodone setting in.
Diagosed young with RA
I’m your average 21-year-old. I’m in college, working, and enjoying life, but I also have rheumatoid arthritis, and I just got home from the hospital after my second surgery this year.
Life can change in a second, we all know that. It did for me in 2020, when I was 19. I used to ride racehorses professionally, and I had a bad fall racing. Less than two months after my accident, I quickly developed crippling rheumatoid arthritis.
Managing mental and physical health with RA
I was determined that the disease would not change me, and I charged ahead with everything I was doing. I started reading medical journals, listening to every episode on Rheumnow, and devoured the ACR’s website.
I made a plan in my head for how everything was going to work and how I was going to feel.
I stuck to my plans like my life depended on it, but somehow things slowly started to slip away from me. All of a sudden, here I am, two years later, with more doctors and ED visits and hospital stays than I can count, four failed medications, and three surgeries.
I haven’t done well with my diagnoses from a psychological standpoint. I just can’t seem to accept it, or “get over it.” It’s still a huge deal to me, and I’ve acquired my fair share of medical trauma.
Not letting RA defeat me
Aside from all this though, many good things have also happened.
I got into my dream university, after struggling along for two years in community college because I never finished high school.
I got my private pilot's license, and have enjoyed some amazing times in the sky.
I also started working at a level 1 trauma hospital and fell in love with working in healthcare. I’m getting ready to take the MCAT this year and once I finish my undergraduate degree, I’m going to apply to medical school.
Many people say “oh wow, your disease really changed your life for the better and helped you do so many incredible things.”
I just smile, but think to myself, “no.”
RA stinks, but life doesn't have to
My disease has done nothing but made me miserable. However, I have changed my life for the better, my care team has changed my life for the better, my amazing coworkers have changed my life for the better, and education has changed my life for the better.
My disease has done nothing for me, but all these things above have done everything for me.
Life is not black and white. Life doesn’t check off boxes on your to-do list.
RA is horrible, I’ll never come to terms with it, and that’s okay. I’m young, but I am going to keep fighting every day, and so can you.
The world is wide open, and we can have it all. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.
But it’s also okay to sometimes give in to the pain and suffering, and take the time you need.
Sometimes it’s okay when people say “it could have been so much worse” to say, yeah, “but it could also have been so much better.”
What lifestyle changes have you found to be most helpful in managing your RA?
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