Pain has a way of making me want to revert into a world of my own. When it comes on strong, it leaves me feeling powerless physically and emotionally. In my early days with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it felt like too much. I didn’t know how to handle it and generally ended up hyperventilating in the shower repeating the mantra: “Please don’t come in. Please don’t come in. Please don’t come in.”
Not only did I need that time alone to feel my pain and vulnerability, but I feared my young children would find me in this sad state and I didn’t have the energy to also deal with their fears.
Find strategies to deal with the pain
Over the years, pain has made a comeback again and again. Repeating something enough times, you realize you need to find new methods of dealing with it. The pain of RA is no different. I realized at some point that I couldn’t stand in the shower indefinitely. As a mother, I was needed. Plus, eventually you run out of hot water and cold water does not feel good on sore RA joints.
My strategy: chocolate truffles
I have a secret that I want to share with you. I have learned a tasty strategy for dealing with my pain. When an RA flare attempts to bring me down, I know I need time away from my family, job, and everything else that requires my attention. I need to just sit in my own feelings. I have found the perfect place to cope with the emotions that come with not knowing what my body has in store for me.
It comes in the form of a little independent gelato store in my neighborhood that just happens to have an extremely generous offering of truffles. It is a luxury I have learned to give myself when dealing with an RA crisis. Choosing the right truffle (or two) takes my mind away from RA, even if for only a few minutes. Then, I walk back to my car, drive somewhere quiet like a nearby park, and carefully unwrap my truffles.
Sometimes as I unwrap them, I cry. Other times I write down my fears or surf the internet without interruption. Then, I savor my truffle(s) without judgement or without the motherly instinct to share. This moment with this truffle is all about me. It’s me acknowledging that I am dealing with a lot and if for only the amount of time it takes to enjoy a truffle or two, I deserve this moment.
I can be a lot of things to a lot of people, but in this quiet moment, I am a woman coping with all that RA wants to throw at me. It is my time to remind myself I am worth the extra care that comes with treating a body that has an autoimmune disease. It’s my way of reminding myself that RA can take many things from me, but never my ability to enjoy the small things that make life so wonderful.