Summer, it is almost here. There are so many things I love about summer. I love lying in the sun for hours. I love the carefree feeling of wearing shorts, sundresses, and sandals and finally packing away the layers of clothes I have worn for too many months. I love the "vacation" attitude people seem to adopt during the summer months. Everything just feels easier and freer.
Unfortunately, summer also brings a feeling of trepidation. In the past, warm weather has meant my once swollen knee would be exposed. It meant getting into the pool with my kids would be a struggle as my joints found each step into the pool to be painful or just not a possibility. In the past it meant once my feet hit the cool water, they would tense up. Summer in the past also was a reminder of the things I wasn't able to easily do any more such as long bike rides with my family, hikes, plopping down in the sand, exploring, and much more.
This summer the warm weather still brings some apprehension. The warm weather of summer means that my rheumatoid arthritis is still at risk of being exposed, even when I am physically feeling better than I have in years. In shorts, I can't hide the egg shaped rash that appears within 24 hours of giving my Enbrel shot. (I tried my stomach but that was worse.) My hammertoes will once again be out there for the world to see and even a fancy job of toenail polishing doesn't make them disappear. If I don't protect my face, a rash develops from Methotrexate. Overall, this probably isn't a big deal since I tend to have rosy cheeks anyhow, but the rash is a little more intense and people always seem to make comments. I love tank tops and wear them often, but feel a little paranoid about the large nodule on my right shoulder. Perhaps it isn't as obvious to others as it is to me, but it still makes me feel exposed.
There are lots of worries going on in my mind created from years of living with rheumatoid arthritis. One rainy day at the end of May all these worries came to the surface and I realized how insignificant they really are. As I got ready to walk with my dog Izzy, I felt the need to feel complete freedom and left my shoes at home. I didn't hesitate to splash through the puddles just as my border collie was doing. Maybe it was by allowing myself to experience life in this childlike behavior that I was able to come to the wonderful realization that all these present day worries were things that have happened in my past with rheumatoid arthritis and not a determined outcome for my future.
As I splashed through the water and let the raindrops hit my bare arms, I realized that I am letting fear from my past guide my present feelings rather than allowing the awesome state I am in right now to be exactly that, a much needed break from rheumatoid arthritis. Sure, I have a little swelling here and there, a little pain every once in a while, but overall I am doing amazingly well right now with my rheumatoid arthritis. I need to be CELEBRATING and not worrying about things that just may not be. So instead of concentrating on the horrible fears and insecurities I have experienced with rheumatoid arthritis in the past, I am saying "good-bye".
"Good-bye" to worrying about hammer toes because really, when you look closely, the majority of people have ugly toes with or without RA. "Good-bye" to worries about people asking why I have an egg shape rash on my leg. Let me share where I have been and how far I have come! "Good-bye" worries about a rash on my face. I said it myself that I have rosy cheeks anyhow. I just need to be more pro-active in keeping my face covered. "Good-bye" worries of feet tightening up and making me limp after getting out of the pool. During this eye opening day I walked in rain water and it was not even 60 degrees outside. If I can handle this temperature of water, I will be absolutely fine in a swimming pool. "Good-bye" all fears of rheumatoid arthritis.
It may come back and grab me hard one day soon, but then I will have more down time to care for these worries. Right now, I need to just keep splashing in water letting these worries slip away because anytime rheumatoid arthritis gives you a break, you have to take full advantage of it and enjoy life to its fullest. So, my goal this summer is to welcome it with open arms and embrace each and every thing that my body is able to do right now. Welcome summer!