Rewrite

rewriteAll day long, my mind remained calm while my body felt like it was on fire. It’s definitely being tested, though. Just when I felt like I had finally shed some of the unhelpful thoughts that I carried around for so many years, I find that they are once again beginning to reappear.

“This is going to last a lifetime?”

This thought is always good for a few seconds (or minutes) of intense anxiety. When I frame my situation in these terms, it seems so impossible to deal with. So today, I decided to rewrite this thought. I turned it into “Sure, this will last a lifetime – but I only need to get through this moment. I have done so before, and I will continue to do so.”

As I continued to walk, I noticed that I was on the flat surface of the street and not on the neighboring concrete sidewalk. The small steps on each driveway curb were just too much for my ankles and knees to handle. Chances are, my crutches are going to come back out from the corner of the entryway to my house. (In the past I used to put them in a closet when they were not in use, but bringing them back out was that much more difficult.

“I feel like a failure.”

Okay, first of all, let me say that that I know that I am not a failure. But somehow, every time my crutches come back out of the closet/corner, I feel like I have failed. The fact that sometimes I cannot carry my own weight on my feet and legs – even though I completely understand the reason why – still feels like a shortcoming on my part.

I guess I’ll strike out that previous thought and replace it with “I will do what I need to do in order to take care of myself.” I’m still not completely convinced, though. Darn. I thought that I had finally worked through these feelings of failure.

Looking back at this moment of the day when all the above thoughts (and others) crossed my mind, I do recognize that I was able to remain calm. I experienced absolutely no feelings of anxiety or shortness of breath.

So instead of feeling bad about the reappearance of these thoughts, I think I’ll celebrate the fact that I was able to work through them the best I could.

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

10 Comments
10 comments
  1. Zelma says:

    It’s called a flair. When the body tries it’s best to override any pleasant thought you may have.

  2. Wende says:

    It crosses all boundaries this RA….. you are a male, mid 30′s living on the other side of the world to me, but it is like you read my diary – I am a female, early 50′s diagnosed 27 years now, living in Australia. Take care and thankyou so much for sharing

  3. Wren says:

    “Instead of feeling bad about the reappearance of these thoughts, I think I’ll celebrate the fact that I was able to work through them the best I could.”

    May I add, “and focus on my successes, rather than my failures” to that sentence, Guy?

    It is so hard, at times, to accept that RA is forever, particularly when it sometimes “goes away” for a time, or merely annoys us rather than flattens us. That you’re frustrated and apprehensive about it at times is, I believe, perfectly natural and perfectly human. Of course, you know this (for what it’s worth — and yes, it’s worth a LOT) even as you feel despair and argue the utter unfairness of being afflicted with such a perverse and chameleon disease.

    Those crutches, as much as you dislike them, are merely tools to help you get through this particular bad patch. Using them isn’t failure; instead, it’s defiance. You are going to walk where you want to and get on with your life in spite of the pain and disability you’re experiencing right now — because dammit, you WANT to. This is, to my mind, deeply and profoundly courageous.

    Lene Andersen, who writes The Seated View blog, has an incredible post up at RA Central about what you, and many of us, cope with as we live with rheumatoid arthritis. She speaks specifically about this frustration and fear. If you haven’t had a moment to read her post yet, please do. She has such great wisdom.

    I hope that the flare you’re experiencing right now will soon quiet, and that you’ll have another long string of “good” days very soon. I’m sending you all the support, compassion and care that I can muster. Stay warm. Laugh with your partner and your dogs. See the beauty all around you and know that there is no failure, not really, as long as you’re still fighting, still coping, still finding wonder in each day.

    Warm hugs to you, RA Guy.

  4. Lene says:

    Sounds very Buddhist/like mindfulness. Best way I’ve found to deal with the crap. And yes, I still feel like a failure at times when my body doesn’t want to do what I want to do. Ah, the hoops we must jump through…

  5. Kelli says:

    Your posts have a tendency sometimes to make me cry. My heart just breaks when I think about the daily struggles that some of us are going through to get through a single moment. The concrete description makes my feet hurt just thinking about it. And then you seem to somehow turn it around right at the end and leave readers with an optimistic zing.

    I know that you know you are not a failure. But that doesn’t change the fact that we struggle with that ugly feeling, does it? It’s like a continual process of dealing with the loss of our abilities. I hate it! Praying that if the crutches come out you will think highly of yourself for doing what you need to do in order to take (good) care of yourself. And that you have the right words for people that may question why you are using them. Thanks for sharing, RA Guy.

  6. Lori says:

    Feeling HOT, HOT, HOT! I’m sharing your pain. We’ve been getting a lot of mixed weather. Rain, sun, rain, sun. The air pressure can drive a person nuts! Feels like being squeezed in vice-grips. :-\

  7. RA Guy says:

    Thanks for all of the comments. Yes, last night I read Lene Anderson’s wonderful blog on “Staying Sane” – it was just what I needed. I posted it here on my blog in hopes that others may read it as well.

    I started my day drinking my coffee while taking a long, hot bath. Plus, it’s Friday! I’m sure I’ll get through this flare as I’ve gotten through others…it can just get hard at times when the constant pain starts sending it’s own signals to the mind.

  8. Kali says:

    One of the things I’ve done that helps me with needing or not needing the crutches is that they don’t go ‘away’. I keep my crutches in an umbrella stand all the time. (er, usually. Right now they’ve been in the car for a couple of weeks) When I need them, I grab them on the way out the door, when I don’t, they are there ready for me. The fact that my crutches have a place where they always belong is easier on me because then I never have to feel like things are bad because they are getting pulled back out. (Okay, that only works so well – I do still sometimes grumble when I need to go back to using them, but the last few times it’s been because the dog isn’t very good at coordinating himself with my crutching self and we end up having to stop and adjust things far more often than I’d like)

    I also try to remind myself that this moment does not last a lifetime. This exact confluence of factors happens this once, and once I get through it, it’s done. I try to figure out which factors I have control over, and attempt to prevent them from happening (or at least, from happening in conjunction with the others). Again, it only goes so far, but it helps me stay on top of the depressive thoughts.

    ~Kali
    http://www.brilliantmindbrokenbody.wordpress.com

  9. Morgan says:

    I was diagnosed with RA a few months ago, but I was diagnosed with a panic disorder almost fifteen years ago. My anxiety has been especially bad this last year and only became worse when I found out about the RA. If I had a panic attack before, I could move on once it was over, but now everything from the pain to the unpredictability and the doctors to the medication heightens my anxiety level.

    I have been filled with a lot of anxiety this week especially and had a debilitating panic attack on Thursday night. I kept thinking that I can’t deal with both of these issues for the rest of my life. I might be able to handle one or the other, but the RA and the anxiety is just too much. I continued to lay there and feel sorry for myself until my husband came home from work to take care of me. Those thoughts have been hanging around ever since.

    So I want to say thank you for this post. It gave me something to think about not only the next time I am in pain, but also the next time I have a panic attack. Now I will remind myself that the panic will end and I will start again tomorrow. Maybe I will be a little unsteady as I shake off the anxiety, but I have done it before and I can do it again.

    Thank you so much.
    Morgan

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