In the beginning, I often dreamed of a day that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) wouldn’t be the center of my life. Years went by and I kept the vision of a less inflamed body in my heart and mind. I wanted to have a life outside of RA. I didn’t want to have to wake up each morning considering how I would get myself out of bed or decide what to nick off my to-do list due to a lack of energy that day.
That day has come. I no longer struggle to get out of bed or base my day around whether or not I am in a flare or not…or so I thought.
With my RA pretty stable, I let myself forget that I have an autoimmune disease. I took on a new job and slowly let the reminders I have so carefully given myself over the years – downtime is your friend, nourish your heart and mind, eat well, sleep – fade into the background. For the last month, I have been trying to live the role of a person who doesn’t have RA.
When we become a parent, we change our schedule to fit being a parent. Most likely we don’t stay out until the wee hours of night because we know we have to get up and care for our children. When we begin working full-time jobs, we take care to get to bed on time and possibly prepare lunches so that we are able to cope throughout the day. RA is no different.
No matter where your RA currently stands – you have RA. Just as you don’t stop being a parent, you don’t stop having RA. Like it or not, it has to be a consideration in EVERY SINGLE DAY.
My reminder came this month when I started my days early and continued late into the evening. I let myself forget that this is who I am. However, my body did not. It is smart. It likes being treated well and reminded me that it will not accept this treatment. It let itself be heard through a flare that started in my elbow and moved to my wrist and shoulder.
Yes, my RA is in a good place. However, there is not one single day that goes by that I can forget it is a part of me. To keep it stable, I have to care for my body. I have to listen to what works for me. I have to remind myself daily that like it or not, this is who I am.