Being Positive With Rheumatoid Arthritis

PositivityBeing positive doesn’t necessarily lessen the severe pain that I often experience as a result of having rheumatoid arthritis, but it certainly makes it much easier to cope with and accept as part of my life. A couple of years ago, I (and others) planted this seed in the dark, gloomy world that I had lived in for all too long. Even though my physical condition continues to worsen, my personal outlook continues to looks even brighter and happier. At times this may seem like an oxymoron, but I would not have it any other way.

I used to think that I had only two choices when it came to living with RA: deny my illness and continue to lead the life that I was used to, or make some adjustments (a.k.a. “give in”)  and feel like I had lost all hope for a better future. I now know that my world is no longer black and white, but that it is filled with an endless amount of beautiful shades of grey somewhere in between these two goalposts.

Arthritis Support Board: I Will Conquer My RA
All of us have been talking how aggressive & early treatment with DMARDs is the best way to achieve conquest over RA. However, this is just a part of the jigsaw, definitely a major one. However, that’s not all for success. There is that additional piece of the jigsaw forgotten by many– the healing power of positive thinking.
Read More: http://doctorakerkar.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/…

Many people assume that positive thinking does not allow me to accept all of the emotions, both good and bad, that my chronic illness and my disability bring into my life. Actually, I did used to feel this way, though, before positive thinking –that I was always supposed to be happy, no matter what happened. I now know that the real meaning of positive thinking is allowing myself to connect with and move through any type of feeling that presents itself in my life.

I have learned that no matter how bleak the situation might look–no matter how bad the pain or how serious my disability–that there is always a silver lining that can be found. By looking for the positive, no matter how strong the negative, I feel just a little more empowered to encounter the pain and disability again. This past week, my work week was book-ended with two major flares. The first, on Monday morning, totally caught me off guard and quite literally left me floored. The second one, on Friday afternoon, was just as severe but was something that I got through with relative ease. I don’t think I would have been able to deal with Friday’s flare in the way I did had it not been for the occurrence of Monday’s flare.

Positivera: Positivity Is Contagious
I also believe down to my bones that staying positive will not only help each other but will also guide our practitioners to stay positive too in the way they deal with patients. You can really be the muse!
Read More: http://positivera.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/…

Over the past few weeks, one of my major goals has been to figure out how to reintroduce a fitness routine into my life that is marked with chronic pain and thinning cartilage in my knees. It’s a challenge, trying to combine a fixed workout routine with an erratic disease. I am learning that sometimes the best thing it to take an afternoon nap and not go to the gym to lift weights (as I did Monday afternoon). Other times, being strong means staying in bed and resting, instead of going to the swimming pool (as I did Wednesday morning). Still, there were many opportunities this past week for me to do my exercises. Positive thinking means focusing on what I can do, and not obsessing on what I can’t do.

Most importantly, being positive means being able to reach a point, as I did this past week, where I no longer think “I will conquer rheumatoid arthritis”. Instead, I woke up one day and told myself: “I have conquered rheumatoid arthritis”.

Sure, the toll that this chronic illness continues to take on my body is becoming more and more visible both to myself and others.

But when it comes to my mind, and my life, I’m happy to say that I–and not my illness–am in charge!

For more positive thinking resources from other people who are living with rheumatoid arthritis, be sure to visit The Life And Adventures Of Cateepoo and Loving With Chronic Illness.

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

8 Comments
8 comments
  1. Wren says:

    You’ve learned a really valuable concept in positive thinking, Guy. Truly, it can mean the difference between moving forward with courage in spite of the obstacles and giving up in despair. Like you, I was a glass-half-full sort of person before RA became such a large part of my life. And since being diagnosed so many years ago, I honestly don’t know how I could cope if I was unable to find a bright side to adversity.

    I’m glad that you’re such a cheerful realist, RA Guy. This disease can be terribly painful and disabling, but we don’t have to let it destroy our ability to find joy in our lives. Thank you for sharing your insights with us. Your silver linings are inspirational and smile-inducing.

    Sending warm hugs your way as the chill of autumn approaches your mountain home, Guy. May the coming week be full of small joys and sweet comforts.

  2. positivera says:

    I love your blog. You are a great inspiration to me as a newbie to blogging about RA. I have added your blog to my blogroll. Stay positive!!

  3. Maya says:

    Hi there! Thanks so much for the link to my blog – it means so much that you read my blog because you are such a source of strength for me. Please keep writing because I will always keep reading.

  4. Cathy says:

    “Ditto” what Maya said. You are always an inspiration to me.

    I hope today is treating you well. Perhaps the sun is shining on your face or you are enjoying a wonderful meal. Whatever it is, I hope something wonderful happened for you today. I am sending the best of thoughts your way RA Guy!

  5. M. Allport says:

    Dear RA Guy:

    I have had Rheumatoid arthritis (severe refractory) for 26 years now. No, I am not that old, I was diagnosed when I was 28. I think treatment and disease management are like climbing up and down a ladder. When there is a lot of pain, you climb up the ladder, take more and stronger medications, and get more rest. When the pain is less, you climb down the ladder, take less medication, and don’t need to rest as often.

    I also work out, and because I do I think I am a better noticer of daily joint aches. One day my left knee hurts, the next day my left knee is fine, but my right wrist hurts. Then the next day, my wrist is fine, but then my hip hurts — and the saga continues. I think if you only rest, the aches and pains that travel daily, might go unnoticed.

    I also think, as a woman, I get raped daily by this disease. I wanted to have my eyes done because my distance vision is not that great anymore — and I hate glasses. I wear enough armour on the rest of my body (a brace for every joint) I don’t want eye armour also. HOWEVER, I found out that laser surgery is contraindicated for RA. UGH! Are you joking???

    However, the good news is, that after such a long period of having the disease, I do have joint damage and my hands look like they’ve been in a war, BUT I still have full range of motion and have avoided surgery to date anyway. The damage slows down quite a bit after the first 5 or so years. Gotta love my rheumatologist.

    Everyone needs a hero….Will you be mine?

  6. Arlene says:

    Positive thinking helped me as well. When I first was diagnosed almost three years ago, I fell in to a deep depresion and needed to take three different types of anti-depressants. I felt stuck. My RA doctor also placed me on Lyrica for my firbromyalgia, but instead of it helping me, it caused me to gain 10 pounds a month for the year and three months I was taking it. This made me feel even more in despair because I felt fat and ugly, and the excessive weight caused too much pressure on my joints an placed me in constant pain. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I begged God to take me out of my misery.

    After a year and half of this, I knew I needed a change. I started reading up about positive thinking because before my illnesses, I’s always been a positive thinker, but several life traumas after another caused too much stress on me and led me to fibromylagia and then rheumatoid arthritis. I know the constant stress and life tramatic events caused me to become a negative thinker in a deep depression.

    After reading about positive thinking, I started practicing it again. One of the first things I did was talk to my RA doctor about getting off y Lyrica, and he agreed. This step alone caused me to start losing weight slowly. Losing weight helped me to start feeling better both physically and emotionally. I felt ready to actually start weaning off one of my three anti-depressants. That process took me 6 months, but I stopped taking it as of October 2010.

    Since then, I’ve weaned off my other two anti-depressants. Since August of 2010, I’ve lost a total of 60 pounds, and I feel much better. I still have another 60 pounds to go, but I know I will get there.

    How did I start all of this process? It was a commercial for Christus Spohn Cancer Center where the woman with cancer says, “I’m not cancer: I’m a wife and a mother. I’m not cancer: I’m a sister and a best friend. I am not cancer: I’m a fighter…” Although this commercial is about a treatment to help with cancer, I applied it to me and my illnesses of fibromyalgia and RA. I’m not RA or Fibro: I’m a wife and a mother. I’m not RA or fibro: I’m a teacher and a best friend. I am NOT RA or fibro: I am a fighter! I refuse to allow my illnesses to run me. I have a life filled with children, a spouse, friends and family, and I will live it!

  7. Allen kowalski says:

    Thank you all for your post nice to know im not alone out there, as much as it might suck. Im 27 and have been dealing with this now for four years and in that for years have lost my job, house, and family. Everything I worked hard for gone.. taken from me. But Your right I’m still here, thought and still kinda do some times that I’m not but in truth I am. Im not r.a, it will not control me. But the real question is where do I go from here?

  8. Leonie says:

    Dear arthritis guy. Im sorry i do not know yawr name. My name is Leonie and i was diagnosed yesterday with rheumatoid arthritis with a positive rheumatoid factor in my blood. I went for the test a few days ago. I was very afraid of needles but because of the severe pain i made myself go. I felt so hopeless to be diagosed at the age of 19, but after i read this page i feel a spark of hope. Keep the flare lighted. Keep the faith.

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