A long time ago and in what seems like a land far away, I lived without daily pain. I lived energetically, enthusiastically, full of ideas, creative thoughts and plans. Every now and then I still get to visit that place and I feel so grateful for that.
Then back in 1997 I got the diagnosis I was dreading. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I had been having almost daily stiffness in my feet and hands and then pain for about 2 years before my doctor was able to successfully come up with this diagnosis. It has now been 17 years since that time. There are days when all I can focus on is the pain and how to manage it. If I get one task that I have set for myself done then I feel like it is a victory.
September has been a month of dealing with pain every day. I seem to be more affected and have my RA flare when we go through seasonal changes and the change from summer to fall has been quite erratic here in central Alberta. We have had temperature and barometric swings almost every day. I am one of those with RA that is affected by my environment – both the physical and emotional environment.
One of the effects of this recent flare is that I have fallen into a bit of a dump emotionally, a mild depression. This is not unusual when you are dealing with chronic pain but obviously not a happy place to be (yes, the pun was deliberate). It is hard to get moving physically when everything hurts and you are hurting on the inside.
No one told me that with a diagnosis of RA I needed to take care of my mental health, although you would think that doctors would now recognize that chronic conditions and the state of one’s mental health are intertwined.
Here’s me today:
One of things I am doing to help boost me out of this state is to dress with the style that I love and can rock by the way. It is also a way to remind myself that I am more than my RA. I am a beautiful, savvy, faithful, full of gratitude, rocking middle aged woman who has lots of great ideas. I am more than my RA. I am more than my RA.
That is my my mantra for the moment. That I am more than my RA. I know how easy it is to get defined by the chronic condition that you live with and I have to remind myself and others that I am more than my RA. That can be difficult when you step on to the floor from your bed in the morning and your feet are screaming with agony. That can be difficult when you have to take frequent breaks from typing your blog to give your hands a stretch and a rest. That can be difficult when you are so fatigued with pain that you can’t even put a full sentence together coherently. I am more than my RA.
I am more than my RA. What do you need to be more than?