My life with Rheumatoid Arthritis and why I can still smile
More and more I realize that life for me is anything but normal. I find myself watching people rush around stores doing their christmas shopping with such ease, and I can't help but to get emotional. I forget what it is like to be healthy and carefree about daily tasks, and I get angry watching people take life for granted.
What it's like for me
Before I even open my eyes in the morning I know what the day is going to be like. I feel like I have lived with this disease forever. I am able to recognize if it is just morning stiffness or if it is going to be a day filled with pain. If it was a good night, then I probably got at least for hours of sleep during the night before the constant throbbing started. If it was a bad night, then I probably had little to no sleep and spent the whole night taking hot baths every hour, on the hour.
Once I open my eyes I have to ask myself the daily question, "how will I get out of bed?" You see, this is definitely not a simple task for me. It is one that I dread, but also one that I know must be done as I have two young boys to care for. Sometimes I have to have my eight-year-old, Gavin, hold my legs and swing them off the bed for me, and other times I just need his shoulder to hold onto. Once I am able to get out of bed, I am one step ahead. I take my hot bath at night and get fully dressed for the next morning. I know it sounds crazy, but my shoulders are so damaged and in so much pain in the morning that I am unable to pull a shirt over my head, much less button anything.
Making it to the front door to take my boys to school is almost the worse. I have to literally take baby steps and place my foot just perfectly so that the pain in my feet doesn't bring me to my knees. If I have to go grocery shopping or pick up anything from the grocery store, then I have to give myself a pep talk. I will spend the whole time on the walk from the parking lot to the store convincing myself that I can do it. Once inside the store I observe the shoppers and how mobile they are. I see them, able to walk around and reach for things with such ease. I wonder, if faced with the same disease, if they would ever take their mobility for granted again.
The nights kill me too. I fear making dinner, not because I don't like to cook, but because by that time my pain is increasing more and more and I sometimes feel too weak to stand at the stove. If I sit and rest for awhile after dinner, then I am so stiff that walking to my kids rooms to tuck them in is painful.
I am successful in my life
But once I finally get my bath and get settled in bed, I reflect back on the day I had. And instead of being depressed or focusing on what I was unable to accomplish, I feel blessed. You see, I am not dead and my life is not over because I am sick. I feel proud of the things I am able to accomplish. Each night as I lay there and reflect back on my day I feel a bit stronger. I learn a little more each day on managing my pain and my disease. I am happy to be alive, despite the pain and suffering I experience on a daily basis. I have to be strong. Besides, I will do it again tomorrow. My motivation, you ask? The feeling of being successful, not just as a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer and a mom, but as a fighter. Because that is was each day for me is...a fight. Rheumatoid Arthritis may have brought pain and suffering to my daily life, but it hasn't taken my heart and soul. I will continue my daily life, my fight, knowing I am not alone in this world...Knowing that I can handle it, even if it does take baby steps....literally!
Published On: November 30, 2008