Building Blocks

Building BlocksA couple of weeks ago, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy woke up one day and thought “Wow, every things seems to be going quite well!” The best part about this moment that I experienced was that I was not at all referring to my rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, I was referring to my life.

Whether my RA was active or in remission, whether I was in one of my worst flares or having a relatively pain-free day, all of this seemed to be besides the point.

What I was looking at was my life, which for a large part of this past year seemed to be falling apart. I realized that not only have I reached a point that I had been longing for quite some time, but that I had actually surpassed where I had hoped to be.

It has been a very rough year, without a doubt. At right around this time last year, I had a flare that lasted longer than the usual three to four weeks. That was the first sign that things were changing. Since I was enjoying some of the warmest months of the year down here in the southern hemisphere, I could not attribute this progression of my symptoms to cold weather. I kept on hoping for things to get better in regards to my RA, but they only got worse.

Some of my lowest points were reached between April-June of this year, which is when I launched this blog (and, when winter started). Readers who have been with me since the beginning of my blog know that I was going through a very challenging phase. (Readers who are new are more than welcome to go back an read some of my posts from during this time.)

One of the main reasons I started blogging about my life with rheumatoid arthritis was for the therapeutic relief that this might provide. What was important was the act  of putting my thoughts down on papers, and re-reading my thought so that I could process them and move forward. Sort of like a private diary, except published online for everyone to see.

I think that my wish has always to build my life back up to where it was previously…but to be honest, this did not always seem like it was possible. The hole that I was in was so deep, and the sand kept falling in every times I attempted to climb out. My joints worsened, the pain worsened, and my mind continued to spin out of control.

Many times, if felt like there were only two options that were available to me: 1. Thrown in the towel and give up hope, or 2. Start working on rebuilding my life – that is, as soon as the pain (physical and emotional) passes. I think one of the best decisions that I made during the past year was when I added one more option to the above list.

I told myself that I needed to start rebuilding my life NOW. I could not wait for my pain to go away, or for my RA to get better. I could not wait until I was walking without crutches, or when I no longer had to go to physical therapy on a regular basis. Come to think of it, it’s a really good thing that I decided not to wait for all of these things…because I would still be waiting!

I now realize that on each and every day, for the past nine months, I have been working on taking that next step forward. It did not always feel like I was moving forward…many times the symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis pushed me back quite a bit. One step forward and three steps back. During times like this, it’s easy to think that these steps forward are not important. The reality of the matter is that is is during times like this when these steps forward are most important. Even though the progress is not easily seen, I must remind myself that it is indeed taking place.

Which brings me to another one of my biggest lessons learned during the past year: when living with a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis, the results of my efforts are not always seen as quickly as I would like them to be. I now know that with a little patience, I will soon enough realize that blocks that I have been putting together days after day have actually created sometime bigger and more beautiful than I could have previously ever imagined.

Having reached this point, I won’t stop now. Each and every day that I live with rheumatoid arthritis, I promise to myself that I will figure out how to continue to take that next step forward. Pain or no pain, flare or no flare, one thing will remain constant – I can always be found adding another block to this masterpiece that is called life.

RA Gurl from Artistically Speaking is also adding blocks each day! Be sure to take a look at her post For Today, if you have not already had the opportunity to do so.

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

2 Comments
2 comments
  1. Wren says:

    I have a dear friend who is very ill. She lives very far away, so visiting her is impossible. But we speak frequently, and during the last several years she has slowly, slowly fought her way back to a modicum of health. She’s still bedbound, still ill, but still fighting.

    Through all of this, as we’ve talked, she’s had times when she was so low. She was close to throwing in the towel, frustrated over her seeming inability to get better. So I acted the part of coach, encouraging her, pointing out her triumphs and steps forward, since she wasn’t able to see them herself, being in the middle of them. She’s come a very, very long way.

    All of this is to say, RA Guy, that you have a real gift in that you’re able to see, upon reflection, your own progress — and take comfort and encouragement from it. Not everyone can do that, you know. While I’m good at cheerleading for my friend, I’m not always so good at seeing my own forward progress. Your words, however, help me to look at my own struggle with RA from a new angle.

    Thank you for that. As I read your post today I thought, “he could turn these posts into a book for those who have RA and help so many people…”

    Anyway. Thanks for the rallying thoughts and inspiration. And bravo for having such patience with yourself and the insight to take note of your own journey.

  2. Lana says:

    “Which brings me to another one of my biggest lessons learned during the past year: when living with a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis, the results of my efforts are not always seen as quickly as I would like them to be. I now know that with a little patience, I will soon enough realize that blocks that I have been putting together days after day have actually created sometime bigger and more beautiful than I could have previously ever imagined.”

    This is beautiful. I have in recent weeks looked the the lemons that life has given me, and with it, I have made gallons of lemonade. Most people do not stop to look at the beauty and the goodness around them until they have to.

    Even though we were forced to look at the beauty and the goodness out there, despite RA, chronic pain and the like – we are the lucky ones. Life, our goals, our dreams – it is all clearer and it is so beautiful and so good.

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