Just Diagnosed

5 Steps to Dealing with an RA Diagnosis

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Nov 29, 2012 (updated May 28, 2014)
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Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis can be overwhelming and scary, but following these five steps can help a person come to terms with the diagnosis.

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Step 1: Accept
Step 1: Accept
It's going to take a while before you accept that you really, truly will have RA for the rest of your life, but once you do, it will be easier for you to step out of grief and move on with your life. Shifting what you hope for to something that is attainable - such as remission with the help of some of the truly excellent meds that are now available - will help you frame your life in a way that nurtures success.
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Step 2: Dream
Step 2: Dream
 Is there something you've always wanted to do, but deemed impractical or unrealistic? Have you been thinking about switching careers? Do you want kids, a dog or to find yourself a farmhouse where you can raise llamas? It's a good question - it gets to the heart of your innermost dreams and can help guide your plan.
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Step 3. Assess
Step 3. Assess
Creating your future is like building a house from the ground up and that means laying the foundation. For those of us who live with a chronic illness, a solid foundation means maximizing our health. To assess what you need, take a look at your situation as objectively as you can. Is your RA under control or do you need to change your medication? Are your doctors good or do you need to find someone else?
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Step 4: Build
Step 4: Build
Don't wait until you get better to start creating your future. Your life happens now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, breakdown your being green into smaller, attainable goals that you can handle with your current energy level and remember to look at the big picture.
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Step 5: Live
Step 5: Live
Having a goal is a good thing, but don't forget to enjoy the journey. Life is what happens now and you need to build in some flexibility to allow for the unexpected. Not just unexpected health issues that put a spanner in the works, but for the unexpected wonderful. The key is to keep going, getting back on the horse that threw you, to continue to discover who you are and where you want to be.