Not all of you know this: I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I say live because suffer is such a strong word and one that I find doesn’t reflect one’s attitude towards this illness. Having clarified that, living with RA is far from easy. It is because of this that I have decided it’s time to embrace this and share how I cope on a daily basis. For those of you who do not know what RA is, HERE is an explanation. Albeit a simple one, it will give you an idea of what people with RA have to deal with. It is not osteoarthritis, so do not confuse them.
Life is far from perfect as it is, but some of us must deal with additional challenges on a daily basis, for the rest of our lives. Not only the disease, I prefer illness, has no known cure, but treatment can cause much havoc. Sort of a no win situation: damn if you do, damn if you don’t.
People can be curious, rude and insensitive about this illness because most of us do not look sick. Pain, after all, is not always visible. Unfortunately, it is ever present. A flare can turn our lives upside down. In some cases, internal organs or your skin are affected. This is due to chronic inflammation and the fact that your body attacks itself.
A good rheumatologist is essential. Someone that understands that treating the symptoms is as crucial as treating the disease. New treatments are available, but not always effective to everyone patient. So I keep up to date with what is out there. Reading, asking questions and being proactive are indispensable. Changing doctors if necessary it’s also a choice.
What I have learned is to accept the limitations, but do no let them take over my life. Work around them. Movement is my friend, so even if it’s just a little, I move every day. Walking, yoga, dancing by myself and stretching all help. I take care of what I eat. Food can be a great help or the cause of a flare, pain and worsening symptoms. Taking time to rest, changing plans at the last minute are things I do now without apologies. I have learned to take advantage of my good days and to take care of myself in the bad ones. Most of all, I have learned to live life to the fullest every day.