“Failure is success if we learn from it.”
During each flare, there comes a time when I know that I have once again made it through the worst. When I reach this moment, even though I still have quite a ways to go before I can fully declare such a flare to be over, I do notice that my bad times get just a little less worse, and that my good times get just a little bit better.
In this current flare that I have been experiencing for almost the past month, this point of realization actually occurred a few days ago, on Christmas Eve. And while I experienced another setback on the day after Christmas, I did so with the realization that while what I was taking seemed to be one step back in my healing process, I had no doubts that the following days would only bring an improvement in my overall condition.
Today confirmed that my beliefs were correct.
I left my neighborhood today, for the first time since Thursday. On my way out the door, I decided that instead of taking my crutches, I would take my cane. This decision was not made by some mental process that was trying to push me to a point beyond where I was…instead, it was the result of a careful evaluation of my physical state over the past few days. My body was telling me that all it needed was a cane – and I listened.
I had two stops to make, which were probably slightly more than half a mile apart. I had every intent of taking a taxi from Destination A to Destination B…but when I finished my first errand, a midday summer rain shower had just passed and the sun was once again shining. Instead of immediately jumping into a taxi, I decided to walk a little further – I could always catch a taxi on the next block. Before I knew it, I had walked the entire course. I waited for the (somewhat now) regular episode of inflammation and pain in my legs and ankles, to let me know that I had over-exerted myself…but it never came.
Hours later (just a few minutes ago, as I type this) I finally did get one of those episodes in my left leg. But instead of lasting for more than an hour, it lasted only a handful of minutes.
So, yes, I know that this flare is not yet over…but I know that it soon will be .
And for me, my feelings of success come not with being able to move around with more ease, with leaving the house with my cane after weeks of being dependent upon my crutches, with not having cried out in pain for more than a week now. It comes with the calm understanding that, once again, I have made it through a severe flare…and with the increased confidence that, when the next flare comes, I will get through that one as well.
Sometimes (quite often, actually) when I am in the midst of a major flare, it seems like it is NEVER going to end. It feels like so much of my life is about failure: I can’t do this, my hands can’t do that…and the list goes on and on. It’s nice to have these thoughts flipped on their head, and to once again be reminded that each and every day that I live and cope with rheumatoid arthritis is a success in and of itself — even more so on those days when I directly encounter the physical failings of my body.
Whether I have more pain or less pain tomorrow suddenly seems less important. What does seem to have gained priority is ensuring, no matter what, that I do everything within my control to make it as great a day as possible. I know this is much easier for me to say now, especially since the severity of my flare is decreasing…but if I bookmark this page and remind myself of and think these thoughts next time I’m in the darkest days of a flare…well then…that would be even more of a success!
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!