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.
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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!
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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!

More Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs

The RA Girl
My name is Carrie and I am a nursing student who was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. In February of 2011 I turned 30. Now, most of my gifts were pretty sweet, but unfourtanelty  I recieved one that I did not want and no one would let me return. Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am hoping this site will help guide young women like myself through this confusing, upsetting, painful, laughable, unfashionable, poorly insured, bacon free, sugarless world of illness. Please check my blog as I write about this new life of mine, and feel free to contact me about anything, I would LOVE to hear from you!
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I’ve been in twittersphere and blogosphere for quite a while and have seen a gaping hole in the need for a blog by someone in the healthcare community, who also deals with a chronic disease,  to improve relations between patients and healthcare providers and keep a positive dialogue going.
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ABC’s of RA
It’s never easy and that is for sure! Having RA (rheumatoid arthritis) for over twelve years I have learned that indeed, it is never simple. Doing almost anything with ra can be a huge challenge and for me it has been. Thus…the reason I am now writing a blog.
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Help Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis From Interfering With A Loved Ones Productive Lifestyle

Studies have shown that early aggressive treatment of RA can limit joint damage, which in turn limits loss of movement, decreased ability to work, higher medical costs and potential surgery. In fact, early diagnosis and treatment can help stop joint damage.

If you:

  • Have pain or swelling in 3 or more joints
  • Have stiffness in 3 or more joints
  • Feel pain in the wrists, fingers or toes
  • And have had this problem for less than 12 months

Then you might benefit from a screening to determine if you have RA.

Because Rheumatoid Arthritis is a serious disease, early diagnosis and treatment are critical to enable those affected to continue living productive lifestyles. Advancements in research and drug development, joint protection techniques and self-management techniques have made it possible for more people with RA to live healthier and more fulfilling live

For a screening and information on Rheumatoid Arthritis, please call 1-866-720-4297 or visit the Arthritis Foundation New York City Chapter Homepage.

(Momentarily) Stopped In My Tracks

A couple of days ago, I was absolutely drop-kicked, knocked out, and [insert your favorite beat up metaphor here] by my rheumatoid arthritis. Now, this has happened many times before, so it many regards it wasn’t anything new. This time, however, I received zero warning signs before I was the the midst of a full blown flare.

The good news: When this flare started to take place, I had just arrived walked in the door of my physical therapist’s clinic.

And while I was seemingly teleported almost instantaneously from “normal” life to complete pain and disability (both hands curled up and could not be moved for about an hour and a half), there were a few words that I kept on repeating to myself, over and over.

“When the pain is this bad, the only thing I can do at the moment is try to accept the pain for what it is. If I try to will the pain away, then things are only going to get even worse.”

This thought simultaneously made me feel at peace and scared the hell out of me. I have not had a panic attack in months…but on this day, I did experience some feelings of anxiety.

But before I knew it, the worst had passed. I rested, and ate lunch. A few hours later, I was in my home office, tutoring one of my students.

And just like that, life goes on…

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