I'm a proud person and I always have been. I don't like to ask for help, especially when I need it the most. I don't like to admit that there are things I am unable to do. And I sure don't like anyone thinking I am anything less than superwoman. I am too proud to admit that I can no longer take on the world as I once was able to. A lot of us rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are too proud to admit these things. But being proud people, why don't we take pride in the things that we are able to do and still can accomplish?
Laughlin Air Force Base
I spent the last couple days at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio Texas. It was a pretty amazing experience for me, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was there to see my little brother get his wings. He has worked hard his whole life to pursue his dreams, and let me tell you that the things he has accomplished weren't just handed to him. He worked as hard as he could to get to where he wanted to be. The graduation ceremony was amazing. I watched him, with that permanent smile attached to his face, up on stage. He stood tall. He stood proud. Sitting next to my mother-in-law and his beautiful wife I could tell they were all feeling the same way I was. They were all so proud of Jeff. I could tell by the smile on his wifes face that she was proud too, not only of the greatness he had accomplished, but also for being by his side and supporting him on pursuing his dreams. This was a huge accomplishment, one he would treasure for the rest of his life, one they both would treasure. The little things that seemed to get in their way along his journey to pursue his dreams did not bother them. He took full pride in the things he had done to get to this point. And he very deservingly stood proud.
Taking pride in who I am
It really got me to thinking about taking pride in who I am, and I started to wonder why was that so hard for meto do. Being the "proud" person that I am, why couldn't I be as proud of myself and my accomplishments as a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer? So I did some soul searching since I have been home. I desperately wanted to answer my own question and somehow make since of everything. So this is what I came up with...
I have nothing to be proud of
We, as rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, are used to having things taken away from us whether it be our goals, our plans, or our dreams. We focus so much on the things we are no longer able to do, instead of the little things that we can do that are still so important to us in our everyday life. I was in court reporting school when I got my diagnosis and was told to stop because of the severity of the damage in my hands. That was one dream down the drain and I had nothing to be proud of. I had to quit working in 2005 due to the pain and stiffness that had taken over my body...another failed accomplishment. There are times when I am unable to clean the whole house, make breakfast, make lunch, make dinner, do laundry, take my kids to the park, and play superwoman...more potential accomplishments down the drain. So that's it! I have nothing to be proud of, right?
That's an accomplishment!
You may feel the same way as I do. You may feel that there is nothing left in you to be proud of. You may even feel like a failure, which is something I struggle with on a daily basis. But you may also be...WRONG! You are able to laugh, maybe not all the time or as often as you would like, but you can still do it. That's an accomplishment. You are able to be a little more compassionate to those who suffer around you as you have suffered greatly as well. That's an accomplishment. You are able to live everyday even though you may feel like you have been hit by a semi, broken every joint in your body, and are swollen up like ten thousand marshmellows. Now that's an accomplishment!
If you are reading these things and for some reason don't take pride in these things because you feel as though everyone else can do the same, let me give you some inspiration in the things I take pride in...
What I take pride in
I am able to hold a glass full of ice tea between my wrists to take a drink when my hands hurt to badly to hold just about anything. That's an accomplishment. I am able to do a full, mighty roll out of bed without the help of my arms and hands and land on my aching feet. That's an accomplishment. I am able to squeeze my shampoo bottle between my forearms to get the shampoo out when my hands and wrists aren't working. That's an accomplishment. I am able to apply heat and ice to every joint on my body while putting on my braces and supports, pick up dirty laundry off my floor with my feet when I am in too much pain and too stiff to bend over, get up and down my stairs by sliding when I can't bend my knees too well, order pizza and they know me by name and have my order memorized, remember to take my meds despite many sleepless nights due to throbbing and pain, and get my boys to help me more around the house by making it into a game when I am unable to do it all myself. Now that's an accomplishment!
I am truely amazed!
When I really sit down and think about it I am truely amazed at the things we rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can still accomplish despite our pain, disability, medications, and doctors appointments. I don't know that I could honestly say that anyone in our position could do the same! I know that when I first was diagnosed with this disease I did not know how to handle it. I had to have my husband help dress me and undress me. I had to have my husband help feed me and cut my food up. I even had to have my husband carry me to the bathroom or just walk to the kitchen for dinner. I may not be able to do these things by myself all the time, but I can still do them by myself. And that my friends...is an accomplishment!
We have accomplished so much
So today take a little time to think about the things that you have accomplished and learned to do despite rheumatoid arthritis. Think about the things you thought that you would never be able to do again, that you can still do now. People who don't live with this disease are able to do many of these things without much effort. The things we work hard to be able to do are things that other people take for granted. But that just means we may have a head start in the accomplishments catagory. And for that...I am proud! So stand tall my fellow rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and be proud of who you are and all the things you were still able to accomplish despite rheumatoid arthritis. And for all of you who can't yet take pride in who they are as rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, let me stand proud for all of you for I take so much pride in our accomplishments!
And to Jeff and Sara...thank you for inspiring me. You have unknowingly inspired me to stand tall and to be proud of who I am and of the things I can still accomplish! So both of you, please continue to stand tall and proud. Never lose that smile that carries your pride in your accomplishments. You never know when you may be inspiring others! Good luck and best wishes!
Published On: July 27, 2009