Years ago, soon after I started writing this blog, I was exhausted. I would wake to another day of immense pain and not know what to do. It often felt like I was parasailing; another gust of pain would come along and–like it or not–I had to go along for the ride. I remember thinking that if I could only get a half a second ahead of the pain, that I would be okay…and this felt like a perfectly acceptable goal, until I realized that I was in for the marathon of my life. Not only would the running never end, but I would also constantly be looking over my shoulder, looking at the pain that just never seemed to go away.
I’ll never forget those feelings of desperation.
One day is all I need. Just one day of no pain. One day of complete rest. One good day…and I will be okay.
That day I was looking for, however, never seemed to appear. The cycle of exhaustion, sadness, anger, depression, and every other negative emotion imaginable (and a few which were previously unimaginable) only continued to grow.
Then, just when it felt like I couldn’t take one more day of pain, I woke up one morning and asked myself: Just because I wake up with pain, does this mean that I should immediately write off my entire day as being a bad day? Yes, I know this is what I had been doing for what had already been years…but what if I were to wake up, and–despite the pain and disability–tell myself that I was indeed having a good day?
A few days later, I decided to make the following public promise, right here on my blog:
I pledge to work on making my feelings of personal well-being less dependent on the presence/absence of pain and mobility limitations in my body.
Since I wrote these words, my life with rheumatoid arthritis has never been the same. Sure, I still continue to experience pain and inflammation which leaves me suddenly unable to move my entire body; for exactly how long, I never know. I often have flares which are so world-changing, that it feels like I’ve passed through the back of a wardrobe. (And unlike others who are fortunate enough to feast on Turkish Delight, I am advised to take ever more toxic medicines!) I live a lifestyle which, only during my recent visit to my hometown, is eerily similar (in pace, at least) to that of my retired parents! I am happy to share, though, that I have finally found someone who takes more naps than I do: my lovely one-year-old niece/goddaughter.
But, despite all these seemingly negative aspects of life with rheumatoid arthritis, I have finally reached the point where years ago I longed to be: I am happier than ever to be able to have one good day after another. (The secret, you see, was figuring out that even with the pain, I can still have a good day. In fact, I rarely ever–no matter how bad the pain is–label any of my days as being bad. Have you always thought that it’s impossible to guarantee that tomorrow will be a good day? Think again!)
If you currently find yourself in a place where it’s hard to connect with your thoughts or with your breath because the chronic pain just seems oh so overwhelming, if life seems like a series of bad days, one after another, do yourself a favor by doing exactly what I did many years ago.
Tell yourself that today is a good day, no matter how much pain you might be feeling right now.
Tell yourself that tomorrow is going to be an even better day, no matter how much pain you might be feeling then.
Trust me…it works!
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!