Five things I’ve learned since having RA:
1. It can always be worse. When my disease onset, I was really, really sick. Slowly, I improved with the right medication. It took a long time. I have a crappy disease, but I am at a point where I know I am better than before. I do some work as a patient advocate and I get to meet a lot of other patients living with #rheum diseases. I know I am pretty lucky and I’m grateful for that.
2. I’m stronger than I realized: I often think that people view me as being weak because I am sick. A person I know recently sprained her ankle. It was obviously painful. She stayed home from work and rested for days. She remembers that I told her how at times, I feel like my ankle is sprained. When she came back to work she made a point to tell me she thought of me and wondered how I get through the day because there was no way she could work in such pain. When you live in pain, you have no choice but to deal with it. I have to be strong because it is my only choice as a single woman living with autoimmune arthritis.
3. Communicating is key. In the beginning, I just expected that my friends and family knew what I needed. They didn’t. They actually did not know how to deal with me at all because I had no idea how to deal with the RA me. I had to be clear with how I was feeling. No one could read my mind. I began asking for help when I needed it. Instead of canceling plans altogether when I felt sick I tried to reschedule. I let others know what I was feeling. Family, friends, coworkers, and supervisors were more supportive when they knew what I needed. Communicating isn’t always easy, but it’s essential.
4. Acceptance goes a long way. When I was diagnosed I went through the stages of loss and grief. I started in denial that this was really happening to me. I transitioned almost immediately to anger and was desperately trying to find a doctor to tell me my symptoms had an easy fix. Depression set in and I hit the lowest of the low. I had seriously bad thoughts about ending things. Rock bottom hit me hard. I got myself help and eventually I as able to accept my fate. It wasn’t easy and I still struggle with it at times, but you only live once, and I’m determined to do it well.
5. RA is a part of me but it doesn’t define me. In the beginning, I saw myself as broken. I put the disease before myself. Thirteen years later and I am a woman living well with rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t hide my disease. RA is a life-changing struggle, but it’s only one part of who I am.
Proud to be a part of the first ever #RABlog week. Check out all the amazing blogs here: http://www.radiabetes.com/blog_week15/day4.html