Breaking The (Pain) Barrier

Yesterday afternoon, one of the news podcasts that I listen to on a daily basis included a segment on pain and palliative care. (Democracy Now: “Palliative Care Pioneer Dr. Diane Meier on How People Struggle with Serious, Sometimes Terminal, Illness”).

The following quote really stood out to me:

“Well, I think the most important thing that we do is recognize how important it is and recognize that if a person is in pain, nothing else can really be accomplished. That is, they can’t interact effectively with their families. They can’t accomplish important goals to them. Very often they can’t even get out of bed in the morning, because the pain is draining all their strength and energy.”

(I recommend reading or listening to the entire segment in order to place the above quote in context.)

These words caught my attention, because a year ago today they were so very true. I felt like I could no longer do anything, due to the chronic pain and disability that is caused by my rheumatoid arthritis. I was always in a bad mood, which definitely was not helping my personal relationships. How to accomplish goals no longer was an important question, as my goals seemed to disappear completely. And very often I not only didn’t get out of bed in the morning, I also didn’t get out of bed at all.

If only the pain would just go away, maybe I could go back to my normal life.

One of my biggest moments of personal acceptance during these past few months, years into my journey with rheumatoid arthritis, has been accepting the fact that the pain is here to stay.

When I used to make a statement like this, my heart would begin to race and my anxiety levels would rise.

When I make this statement now, it allows me to accept the reality of my situation. It allows me to see chronic pain as a part of my life, and not as a barrier to experiencing my life.

My pain is still here, and I have gone back to my normal life.

I continue to learn that I can indeed accomplish a lot, even as I encounter symptoms of my illness that simultaneously improve and worsen. (Alice, welcome to my version of Wonderland!) I do not disagree with the quote above…I know firsthand how true it can be.

Fortunately, I also know that the barrier of chronic pain, that often seems so insurmountable, can indeed be breached.

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

Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group

Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group (YWASG) was formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1996 as a means for younger women to contact others to exchange support and ideas for coping with rheumatoid arthritis and the many other forms of arthritis affecting young women of child-bearing age.

Our support group meets each month at Ashburton Community Centre, 160 High Street, Ashburton. Here, members get together to chat and hear interesting talks from guest speakers. Women of all ages are welcome and partners and friends are encouraged to come along too. Members receive an email each month with full details of the upcoming meeting. A $2 donation at each meeting covers room hire costs, tea, coffee and biscuits. Meeting start at 7.30pm and run until about 9.30pm, but members are welcome to arrive or leave any time during the 2 hour period.

As well as our monthly support group meetings, our website offers information about arthritis and our Forum is growing into a very active community. You do not have to be a YWASG member to join the Forum, so if you are not located in Melbourne, or do not have access to your own support group, this is a great place to meet other women with arthritis and talk to them in a friendly environment whenever you want!

As an informal companion to the our website, we have created a blog called ‘Stiff Chicks’. The blog will be an active place to comment on regular posts and to participate in discussions about living with arthritis.

More Info:

stiffchickslinkStiff Chicks is the blog of the Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group, and is written by a team of girls from YWASG with the occasional guest author. Here we share with your our experiences with arthritis, news, information, tips, suggestions, resources and anything else that other young women or their friends and families may find useful. We hope you enjoy your visit.

More Info:

Health Care Reform & RA

Joy125’s Blog

Diagnosed in my 20s, I’ve had RA for over 30 years. I’ve been on several RA meds since then — from aspirin and gold shots — to currently enbrel and methotrexate.

By the time the biologics came on the scene, I already had joint damage, and have had foot surgery and both knees and both hips replaced.

I have been fortunate to have had health insurance most of these years, but I didn’t when I was first diagnosed. My job at the time didn’t offer health benefits, and it was quite overwhelming as a young adult, dealing with the pain and uncertainty of RA, and mounting medical bills.

Because of my personal experience, I deeply empathize with all those with chronic conditions that daily struggle with the challenges of living with diseases like RA, and the increasing cost of health care and health insurance. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of health care reform that will provide affordable, quality health care for ALL Americans. RA no longer needs to be a crippling disease — recent treatment programs and medications can ward off disability — but only if there is access to affordable, quality health care.

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