Last Wednesday night I had a night out with my 21-year-old son. We went to a local restaurant and coffee shop before a night of listening to Bernie Sanders. We are both big supporters of him and his philosophies so it was a real treat for both of us. Plus, I really needed to hear good news. I don’t know about you, but stress inflames my joints and this year there has been plenty of it.
Stepping in line for admission, spirits were high. You could feel the need to be energized and motivated – ready to make positive change in the world. Bernie did not disappoint.
As Bernie hit on various alarming topics, he always ended with “Now here is the good news.” I am smiling now just visualizing him speaking those words. As I sat absorbing the positive vibes around me, it made me think of my journey with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The last 14 years of living with a chronic illness have been filled with lots of bad news. My personality is one that desperately needs to find the good news and let that be the focus. This is probably one of the reasons I am drawn to Bernie Sanders. He has a special way of reminding his followers that we all have a role to play in making good news a reality. Here’s how I see my bad and good news with RA.
Bad news: There have been mornings that I feared I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed and care for my kids.
Good news: I did get up. I wasn’t always able to do the things I wanted to, but my children turned out pretty amazing, despite living with a mom who lives with a chronic illness.
Bad news: I have slightly wonky fingers and multiple nodules that often make me feel more monster than human.
Good news: The nodules in my feet, fingers, elbows, and shoulder have not prevented me from doing any of the things I have wanted to do in life.
Bad news: I have to take medications that potentially have very harsh side-effects.
Good news: So far, I have not experienced any of those side effects. In fact, despite taking an immune suppressant medication, I rarely get sick with a cold or flu. Plus, with my current medication mix, my hair has grown back in fully.
Bad news: RA often affects more than just our joints and I will always need to be aware of my lifestyle choices so that I am living as healthy as I can.
Good news: Because of my RA, I was forced to learn about better food choices, stress reduction, and living in the moment. Plus, RA has helped me focus more on my individual strengths and work on improving my weaknesses.
Bad news: When living with a chronic illness, it is easy to feel alone, as if we are the only one to experience that pain that is now a big part of our lives.
Good news: Communities of people continue to grow. Support is out there in blogs, organizations, advocacy work, and one of my favorites, HealtheVoices, which brings together people of a variety of health conditions to learn and share with one another.
Bad news: Despite my RA being in a good place, I constantly have to monitor my fatigue. One day of doing too much can wipe me out for days.
Good news: After years of struggling, the fact that my RA is in a good place is absolutely amazing.
I left Wednesday night feeling in touch with myself. I needed to hear good news – it’s what keeps me going. Bernie reminded me that no matter what is happening in my life, good news is always up to me. I have the potential to change the bad to good.
*I realize that not everyone is a Bernie supporter and that’s okay. My goal here is to share the effect he had on me and my desire to always find the good within the bad.