What Is “Health”?

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

“Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” -Buddha

healthHypothetically speaking, if Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy had a do-over on life which included the option to choose whether or not RA was a part of his life, what would he choose?

I would choose to not change a thing.

This is a strong statement, I know. Excruciating pain. Fear and anxiety. Fatigue. Why would I knowingly invite these and other things into my life, if I had an opportunity to get rid of them once and for all? Chances are that if I do not experience these physical and emotional symptoms as a result of my rheumatoid arthritis, I would experience them because of something else.

Bad diet. Stress. Lack of physical exercise. Overworking. Inflexibility. All of these items were a major part of my life before my rheumatoid arthritis became active. It took a long time to change my habits and thought patterns in order to support a more healthy style of living, but in the end I was able to make the changes.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis equals a more healthy style of living?

It sounds funny, but for me at least, this is very true. I recently wrote some words on “getting better” – at the same time, I often wonder what it means to “be healthy”.

I think it’s quite easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I am unhealthy. After all, I live with a chronic illness that causes chronic pain and debilitating inflammation. I take a handful of pills every day. I attend physical therapy session at least twice a week. I have mornings where my hands and wrists hurt so much that bending them back into shape is an ordeal. And at the moment, the soles of my feet hurt so much that they continue to wake me up during the night.

All in all, we’ve got one really unhealthy guy on our hands, no?

The funny thing, is, that I feel healthier than I have in a long time…in fact, the healthiest that I have felt in my whole life.

I continue to explore modifications to my diet. This has not only allowed me to identify some probably dietary triggers, but it has also left me feeling more nourished and more fully of energy.

I continue to get closer to my ideal weight of 185 lbs. For years (the past decade, actually) this seemed to be way out of range, especially when I was nearing 265 lbs just a little under two years ago. Right now, I am just a couple of pounds away from reaching 200 lbs. Not only do I feel better, but moving around with my crutches is easier…and just know that dropping the extra weight is also helping my knees and feet.

Even though I may not always be able to exercise to the degree that I am used to, I have gotten into the habit during the past couple of years of exercising each day. Before I started living with rheumatoid arthritis, exercise was the absolute last thing on my mind. It was my initial years of living with RA that motivated me to start taking yoga classes.

I continue to work on minimizing stress in my life…and when I can’t minimize the actual stress, I work on minimizing my reaction to it. Later this morning I am going to a group guided mediation session that I have started participating in once a week. I am continually striving to find ways to accentuate the positive side of life. Had I continued down the path that I was on a few years ago, chances are that I would not have learned any of these lessons so early in life.

So yes, I feel healthy…and I don’t think it’s just a matter of me deceiving myself.

“Healthy” has a lot of definitions…for some people is means never having to see the doctor, never having to take a pill, never experiencing any pain (come to think of it, is this actually possible, to not experience ANY pain?).

For me, “healthy” means feeling good about myself. Thanks to my rheumatoid arthritis, I have indeed reached a point where I feel good about myself – body, mind, and soul.

What does “healthy” mean to you?

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!