Some fresh-cut roses from the garden, standing in a small glass pitcher. A daily strip of medicines from my weekly pill organizer, with an evening dose of Plaquenil visible in the front compartment. A trio of creams for my arthritic hands: Aspercreme, Peaceful Mountain Joint Rescue, and Bengay.
As I continue to encounter new levels of pain and disability, the thing that surprises me the most is not how much it hurts (and the usual corresponding amazement that yes, it can actually hurt even more). What surprises me is how much less of a challenge living with this illness is when approached with a sense of emotional strength and calmness.
And while I would never taunt my rheumatoid arthritis, I am actually feeling a little bit of the “bring it on” attitude.
Yes, there was a lot that I was not able to do during this past week. I’ve been bed-ridden for extended periods of time, and in addition to periodically losing movement in my legs I have also been losing movement in my arms from the shoulder on down. But there is also a lot that I have been able to do.
I’ve been reading and listening to music and podcasts. I was finally able to do some minor updates that I’ve been wanting to do, here on my blog. I was able to leave the house a couple of times this week, once to meet some former students for coffee and another time to go to physical therapy followed by a quick visit to the grocery store. (It’s funny how something as usually mundane as going to buy groceries can become one of the highlights of a person’s week.)
Managing expectations is playing a large role in my ability to weather this current storm. What are my expectations? To do what I can do…and to not do what I can’t do. It sounds simple, I know…but it’s taken me years to get to this place. No more fretting, no more feeling like a failure on any certain day. No more pushing myself beyond my limits.
Sure, concerns continue to creep up again, this most immediate one being finances. But I refuse to allow myself to worry. (Worrying in and of itself never really fixes anything.) I believe that if I have my health and my happiness, the other pieces will start falling in place. In the end, things always work out.
It would be so easy to concentrate on everything that is not working in my life right now, but I’ll continue to focus in on everything that is working. When I look at things this way, I’m pleasantly reminded that this list is always much longer than it initially appears to be.
Pain and disability continue to be a constant presence in my life, but I am now looking at them in a different way. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!