Rheumatoid Arthritis Bill Of Rights: Managing Life's Challenges

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • It is once again time to celebrate Independence Day in America. This time of year always makes me think of the Bill Of Rights, the first ten amendments to our Constitution. I think it appropriate this month to consider a Bill Of Rights for RA patients.


    Your RA Bill Of Rights


    Right #1: You have the right to an open relationship with your health care provider(s) who must provide you with all of the information you need to make informed treatment decisions. No one has the right to tell you what you should do with your body. The decision is yours, because YOU are the most important member of your healthcare team. There are 5 Things to Look for in a Rheumatologist.

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    Right #2: You have the right to seek employment for which you are qualified and to receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace that make it possible for you to perform your job duties to the best of your ability. Working and having RA can be

    >a struggle, and there may come a time when you have to face your situation head on and have Hard Conversations: When Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Work


    Right #3: You have the right to enjoy life to the fullest, concentrating your time and energy on the things that are important to you. The housework can wait, as it will always be there. For guys, the building projects can wait, as Rome wasn't built in a day.


    Right #4: You have the right to share what you want to share about your illness.....or not! It is your life, and you do not have to feel guilty or obligated to do or share anything with anyone.


    Right #5: You have the right to say “No!”, and do it emphatically if necessary. Your first obligation is to yourself. Only you know your limits, and only you can protect your body from undue stress, both physical and emotional.


    Right #6: You have the right to dance to the song in your heart, whether you be in your wheelchair, moving with your cane, or your walker, or on your own RA feet. Life is a dance, and we should fill our lives with the music that makes us smile and lifts our hearts. Always dance toward the light, moving as far away from the darkness as you can.


    Right #7: You have the right to laugh, as often and as long as possible. RA seems to turn away from laughter. We must keep our sense of humor intact because it keeps us safe.


    Right #8: You have the right to vent whenever you feel the need. People who do not have RA cannot fully understand, so you are welcome to Health Central and vent away. You will be talking to a community of people who can relate to the challenges facing all of us living with RA. Venting is healthy, but then moving on is the thing to do.


    Right #9: You have the right to advocate for yourself with your doctor, with your co-workers, with your family, and with the public. There is a lot of ignorance about RA in our world, as you undoubtedly know by now. If you have the energy and are so inclined, it is a good thing to educate, educate, educate. If your RA is controlled, and you have the energy and time, you might consider becoming an advocate for The Arthritis Foundation and help spread the word.


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    Right #10: You have the right to remain who your are and not let RA define you. You are the same person you were before RA barged into your life uninvited. Don't let RA chase your dreams away. We may have more challenges than those without a chronic illness, but we can find ways to still do what we enjoy. It all comes down to Adaptation: Learning to Live with RA


    I hope you found some ideas for coping with the challenges of living with RA in my RA Bill Of Rights. Life isn't fair, and life isn't easy. That is just the way it is. The Preamble to our US Constitution says that all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hope you are all living life to the fullest, and that you never give up your pursuit of happiness. Wishing all a wonderful July, and a special Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans!

Published On: July 05, 2011