Ah, Superman. The epitome of masculinity, the man of strength. He is even more super than many of us could ever imagine, for one of his many comic book series is titled “No Limits!”. (I don’t know about you, but this sounds like my type of superhero.)
I wondered: is it really possible for Superman to have no limits? We’ve all heard about kryptonite, but maybe many counseling sessions with his therapist finally paid off and allowed Superman to overcome his fear of the wicked green element. (Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy might be just a little jealous, but he has a wonderful psychologist of his own. Go Team RA Guy!)
I wanted to hear what other people were thinking about superheroes and limits, so I did an internet search and landed in some comic book/superhero discussion forums and found many very heated debates on the topic. Can Superman sit on the sun? Can Superman breathe when he is in outer space? Can Superman’s skin ever get cut? The list went on and on. (Some people were apparently quite upset that such questions were even being asked – really! Note to self: just when I think my pain can’t get any worse, visit these forums again.)
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy was recently asked how he learned his limits. I really appreciated the question (especially coming from another young guy with RA – we really do exist!), as I realized that I had never really stopped to think about this question.
I would love to say that I continually assess my situation and adapt accordingly. That I am always aware that with the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis comes fatigue, and that I need to plan my activities appropriately, otherwise I will find myself deeper in a hole. I want to say that my to-do list needs to be cut in half, and then cut in half again. And then, still, cut in half again. It would be great to communicate that I have no problems balancing the logistical and financial concerns of daily life with the emotional and physical demands of living with RA. Last but not least, I sometimes want to believe that my gender plays no role in my ability to accept certain limitations and weaknesses, both private and public.
But I would just be kidding myself.
Quite often, I learn my limits only after pushing myself too far. In extreme cases, I finally do learn my lesson and promise not to make the same mistake again. Still, I am just beginning to realize that as soon as my flare subsides and my body seems to be back to its “normal” self, I often find myself back in the same place – pushing myself past my limits.
So I don’t yet have a complete answer to the question of how I learn my limits, but I hope that my new awareness combined with my continued counseling sessions will allow me to continue to make the progress that is necessary in order to take care of my mind, body, and spirit. And maybe, just by bumping up against my limits a less often, they will begin to fade away.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!