How Do You Do It?

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

Do+itEarlier today, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy woke up to a nice email message from a person who has been reading this blog for several months. This reader commented on how, despite the chronic pain and constant challenges that I encounter on a regular basis as a result of living with RA, my blog posts always seems to exhibit a positive outlook on life.

Is there anything you can tell me that would inspire me to feel how you feel? It’s like nothing stops you; you get knocked down and you get right back up. How?

It’s funny, the timing of this question.

Just yesterday, between my morning physical therapy session (my physical therapist has been kind enough to come to my house each morning for the past two week) and a six-hour workday that started at noon (30 minute commute, 2-1/2 hour class, 10 minute break, another 2-1/2 hour class, and a return 20 minute commute), I was taking a taxi to the local shopping mall (pharmacy and a quick bite for lunch). The pain was absolutely everywhere, and my crutches were propped up against the seat next to me.

Monday: crutches.
Tuesday: crutches.
Wednesday: nothing.
Thursday: cane.
Friday: crutches.

I diverge. Back to the pain, when I was in the back of the taxi.

I thought to myself: “Some days, I have no idea how I keep on moving.”

But the weird thing, is that I just keep on moving.

Why do I keep on moving, when something it seems like the easiest thing is to just sit in one spot or stay in bed? I do it because in the past, I would just sit in one spot or stay in bed…and experience has shown me that the results are not always pleasant. My muscles atrophy. Depression sets in. And even though it seems like it can’t get any worse, it actually does.

Continuing to move forward, to pick myself back up, shows me that there is life beyond my pain and illness. Come to think of it, there is even life within my pain and illness. There is the humor that comes from the pharmacist, who every time she sees me, tries to guess what my medicines are before I tell her. There is my physical therapist who has also become my friend. During Thanksgiving Dinner last week (there were about twenty people here at our house, most of them American) when a back spasm left me almost completely immobile, she gave me an emergency 30-minute session in the privacy of my bedroom. There are my students who, when I showed up to class this week with a black walking cane, Nike shoes, slightly-loose blue jeans and square-cut button-up shirt (untucked), called me Dr. House. (I actually thought this was funny.)

Accepting this illness into my life, and all the good and bad that it brings, in a strange way is one of the things that allows me to continue to be optimistic. It’s the calm reaction during a really bad flare, when I remind myself that I have been through this and can get through it again. It’s the tears that flow freely and my shouts of agony during this moment when it actually seems like I won’t get through one of these episodes…but eventually, the absolute worse does pass.

It’s not only knowing the friends and family that I can turn to for support during a rough time…but actually turning to them for support during a rough time. It’s knowing that my illness affects not only myself but those around me, and that with determination together we can get through it together.

But a lot of times, to be honest, it’s sometimes having absolutely no clue of how I do it…

But knowing that if I do it, I will be okay.

And I just keep moving forward, as best I can.

How do you do it?

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