The best year for living with Rheumatoid Arthritis...EVER!
I am sure this is not the first thing you have read about New Year's resolutions. And while it is, in my opinion, fun to read about everyone else's New Year's resolutions, I thought maybe we could make a few together. Why not, right? We are all here for support, and we can all help keep each other on the right track. So here goes...
Ask for help
This year let's ask for help. No more struggling and suffering in pain because our shoulders hurt too much to reach to the top shelf for a dish, just to show we are perfectly capable of doing it ourselves. I don't know about you, but I would rather ask for help then spend the next day with my shoulders so flared I can barely move my arms to dress myself. No more sitting on the couch with a pleasant smile on our face visiting with our friends and family while we are suffering in pain because we know we can't get up from the couch by ourselves, or without a quiet moan of pain. Yes, we are proud people. Yes, we can do it ourselves! But we are also usually the ones who try to make everything easier for others, so we deserve to be able to ask for help with dignity when we need it.
This year let's be kinder. Now I am not saying that we are mean people at all, because we are not. I am just saying that there are those times (and we have ALL been there) when we have heard someone say that they understand our pain because they too have ARTHRITIS in their knee. Yes, that has made me bitter more times than I can remember. Yes, we all know it is NOT the same thing. But a reply like that has made me waste my day and left me in a bitter mood for too long. We know more than most that people often downplay their pain and that everyone is fighting their own battle. So let's be a little bit more kind to those who are fighting their own battle, for we can never really know what their battle is like, just as so many don't understand ours.
Let's smile more. This isn't just for us ladies who know what kind of damage and aging the medication we take for rheumatoid arthritis can cause, but for all of us who rarely can find a reason to when we are struggling through a flare. Smiling is not just a great break for that bitter expression I know I have plastered on my face when facing a flare, but is good for our soul as well. Besides it's a great way to shock those around us who expect the permanent look of pain to be plastered on our face. Just remember that many suffer alone, yet we have a great support system in all who suffer from this disease.
Let's laugh more. I know all too well how hard that is to do. I used to watch people laughing and having a good time and be bitter because they could laugh and have fun pain-free unlike myself. I don't know about you, but I have found some slightly awkward sense of humor that has come from surviving with this disease. And while most of my laughter comes from laughing at myself and the rapid aging I have experienced from this disease, you better know that I will be the one laughing the loudest! I bet you didn't know that laughing can sometimes work as a natural pain reliever. It's true! We should try it a little more often. And while I know that isn't always possible, I promise to do my part to try to get a laugh out of you once in awhile!
Let's learn a little more to recognize our boundaries. We have all done it. You know, that day when we are feeling a bit better so we try to be super human and accomplish EVERYTHING that has ever needed to be done in one day only to throw ourselves back into the worst flare of our lives. I have five years of living with the severity of this disease, and while I do know my boundaries, I still feel the need to test them yet get upset with myself when I throw myself back into a flare. Boundaries are awful! And while I wish we didn't have them, they are necessary for living well with this disease. Sometimes we don't want to face that we are no longer able to do everything we are used to doing. But that doesn't mean that we can't do some of the things. We have to learn what each of our bodies can handle. But when we do, I am fully confident that life gets a little better and we are able to smile and laugh more.
Take Care of Ourselves
This year let's take care of ourselves. What I have learned about rheumatoid arthritis and the people living with it is that we are all caretakers in some way. Whether we are supermom, who takes care of the kids, the house, the groceries, or the one who helps in the community, the husband who works ungodly hours to make sure his family is provided for, or the student who excels at everything he does, we are caretakers. And what I have learned from being a caretaker myself is that we tend to overlook our needs and replace them with the needs of others. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that we should stop caring for others and care only for ourselves. I too attempt to be the rheumatoid arthritis superhero. But I am learning that the less I care for myself, the less I can care for those I love. So let's just take a little more time for us whether that means a nap, a couple minutes alone, or a dinner out one night. It will do wonders for your soul and make it a little easier in the fight against RA.
Let's protect ourselves this year. Yes, the medications, well....stink! And yes, we Do have to take them. But what that does for us is it protects our health and our body. I still have the days when I cry before having to take my medication, or I only want to lie around only later to find I am now in more pain than before. Protecting ourselves is hard. It's not just a change in medication, but a lifestyle change as well. But we can do it because we are the strongest of the strong. We can exercise and eat right. We can take our medications, and we can survive because we are fighters.
Support Each Other
Now last but not least...Let's support each other. The support I have received from each and every one of you has helped me know I am not alone in this fight against RA. It has helped me become stronger. If you're having a bad flare day, let us know so we can have the opportunity to provide you with some words of support. If you feel depressed, don't be ashamed of it we have all been there and still experience that ourselves. Remember there is no right or wrong way to feel about living with this disease. When you feel all alone, let us know so we can tell you how we have been there before. We are all here for support which helps make this fight against rheumatoid arthritis a little more worth it!
So this new year let's make it the best year for living with rheumatoid arthritis ever! We can do it. And not only can we do it, we can do it together! Even though there may be those days where you still have to say (and say it with a smile) "Oh Holly, Behave!" Happy New Year!
Published On: January 14, 2009