The rules of the game are not necessarily how I would have written them, but each and every day I begin to understand them a little better. I continue to learn that within what appears to be strict constraint, there is actually quite a lot of freedom to be found.
Sure, the nature of my rheumatoid arthritis continues to be quite unpredictable – no big surprise there. One trick that I am currently learning, however, is that the more I am there for my body, the more it is there for me in return.
If I give it plenty of downtime and recuperative rest, than I can count on it just a little more to work with me when I really need it to. I can’t control the unpredictability, but maybe I can make it just a tad bit less predictable. This counts for a lot…and it really helps me prioritize my activities throughout the day.
I continue to become more aware of the kind words and actions of support that I receive on an almost daily basis. These acts of kindness come not only from people who are close to me (and who live with my rheumatoid arthritis in their own way, as well), but they also come from casual acquaintances – and at times, even almost complete strangers.
Some people understand my situation more and some people understand my situation less, but they all have one thing in common: each and every one of them is trying to help. I will do my best to help them become more aware of what it means to live with rheumatoid arthritis, but I am not going to criticize them for not fully understanding the ins and outs of RA.
Instead, I am going to be grateful for all of these kind gestures of support, whether they hit the mark or not. In the process, I will remind myself that before I was diagnosed with RA – even though I had been living with it for years – I myself had no clue what rheumatoid arthritis was. (Many years after my diagnosis, I still struggled to understand what it meant to live with rheumatoid arthritis.)
Quite often, the rules of the game are nothing more than those of a tightrope walker: don’t fall over. I continue to figure out how to balance doing enough physical activity to stay in shape and maximize the flexibility in my joints, with not pushing my body too far. This is not an easy feat to accomplish, especially since this point of balance changes day by day – and sometimes even hour by hour. If I accept this challenge as part of my daily life. It is now something that I expect, which means that it is something – good or bad – that I look forward to with each new day.
In the past, my goal quite often was to squeeze multiple activities into one day. My new goal is to spread one activity out into multiple days. I like this new way better. Sure, I am still going to do a handful of things on most days, but I will at least prevent myself from trying to complete a large task all in one sitting.
My number one rule remains unchanged, though. For every one thing I cannot do, there are two things that I can do. This rule continues to carry me farther than I could have ever imagined.
The rules of the game aren’t always easy to figure out…if only rheumatoid arthritis came with an instruction booklet! As I continue to familiarize myself with the rules, playing the game is becoming a whole lot easier. In a funny sort of way, I’m actually having some fun. And after all, isn’t this the whole point of playing a game – to have fun?
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!