So You Have RA. Now What?
By Karen Ager
Remember it's Your Body, Not Your Soul:
I always used to say if I was a horse they would’ve shot me by now. You know, put me out of my misery! It seemed like my body had given up at times and that all I had left was my spirit. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at 17, I didn’t understand the effect the disease would have on the appearance of my body and how this would make me feel. By the time a decade had passed I was no longer symmetrical. Before my eyes I watched myself deform. The right side was always worse than my left. My shoulder relieved itself of the pain by edging its way forward like a rolling wave. I have ‘evil step-mother’ fingers, my wrists are frozen and my right foot pointed outwards horizontally on a 45 degree angle until my hip was replaced. Damaged goods! In less than ten years, I was crooked and bent. I didn’t like to look at myself anymore, much less share my body with someone else.
I am guessing that if you’re reading my page you may also suffer from RA. So how do you deal with it? How do you deal with messages in your mind that scream, “No one will love me like this!”
It’s important to acknowledge that these are valid emotions. What you feel is quite normal when you are battling a chronic disease. But to allow this to define you is to let the disease take control. It’s okay to be angry and to even feel sorry for yourself from time to time, but not every day. Sooner or later you just have to “deal with it.” Once you begin to “deal,” then you can start your journey towards healing. Making informed choices about treatment options will give you a feeling of control over the disease and is often a great place to start. Remember it’s your body and not your soul. The very essence of who you are is still the same with or without your disease. You may look crooked, but you’re still YOU and YOU ARE GREAT!
Read more tips : Coping With a Chronic Debilitating Disease in 12 Steps.
"My hands are bent, my knee is swollen and I walk lop sided. I can’t get up off the floor, it hurts when I hold your hand, my scar is ugly. I’m always tired! I can’t run or go to the gym, my body is not toned. Sometimes, it’s just too far for me to walk! I can’t stand up for more than 20 minutes. It hurts my wrist to put my hair up in a ‘pony.’ I can’t get that lid off or reach up high, carrying the washing is hard for me. Too heavy! Help, I can’t get out of the bath! My skin is paper thin from the ‘meds,’ there are purple veins all over my ankles. My hair is dry and brittle. I just feel so alone."
Is this the way you feel sometimes? How can you learn to cope with all these emotions?
“My day will be good. I can push through the pain.”
Read more tips: Coping With a Chronic Debilitating Disease in 12 Steps.
I know what worked for me (after a personal long battle with acceptance) may not be right for you. SO…
What if you're just plain ANGRY?
What if you're just feeling plain old ‘BLUE?'
What if you feel overwhelmed with FEAR?
What shape would I be in 20 years from now? Would I be able to walk?
Share these feelings with others. Find out more information about the disease because there’s so much hope now.
What if you're feeling so vulnerable that you can't get through the day?
Read more tips in: Coping With a Chronic Debilitating Disease in 12 Steps.
So your disease is gradually edging its way through your body leaving a trail of crooked and bent bones in its destructive whitewash. Progressive, degenerative, relentless. There’s no doubt disease changes you! A Doctor once said to me “when people are sick, you often see their true personality come out.” It’s flight or fight. I chose to fight and you can too. You can choose to embark on this journey and be enriched by it. The journey will change the very essence of who you are, and direct your life choices, making it easier for you to make decisions that are not fuelled by self indulgence but by what is right. This brings about a true peacefulness from within. RA has the power to deform your body but it can also enrich the soul.
COPYRIGHT 2006- Karen Ager