Knock Me Down, Pick Me Up

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

After a couple of relatively symptom-free weeks, my rhuematoid arthritis is once again knocking me down. Today I didn’t get out of bed until around 1:00 p.m. Even then, I did’t much get past first gear…although I am proud to say that even as my day passed by in slow-motion, I was able to make it into the kitchen to cook dinner.

I find it interesting how nowadays, whenenever my RA starts to get the upperhand, I don’t have many of the thoughts that used to be have for so many years. No telling myself that I need to be doing something other than resting (or sleeping) in bed. No sadness about the fact that I live with the pain and disability on a daily basis. No fear about what might happen if things continue to get “worse.” Most importantly, no self-blame and no doubt; no wondering what I might have done to “cause” this flare. (I’ve gotten really good with the pacing and with not pushing myself too hard.)

This disease is hard enough, without my being hard on myself emotionally. So when my RA knocks me down, without so much as a second thought I start doing what I need to do in order to pick myself back up…and even though some people may find sadness (I know I used to) in the repetitive nature of what can often seem to be a “two steps forward one step back” type of life (or “one step forward two steps back,” when things are really critical), I’ve learned to appreciate even the beauty of these moments. First, because I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again. Second, because even though it may seem to be the same routine, each time around I make it a point to learn something new.

When I am stuck in bed, unable to even roll over, I no longer think about how much of my day I have “lost.” Even in this situation, whether I am sleeping or lost in my thoughts as my body deals with its temporary paralysis, I am not losing out on life…because this is my life.

Even though I will often say that I am having a good” day, I rarely ever try to tell myself that I am having a bad day. Now this isn’t to say that on more days than not, as was the case this morning, I awake to a body that is not working (in the traditional sense)…but I’ve learned that if, during these early hours of the day, I label it as a bad”day, then it will, well, stay bad all day long.

Because when I label my day as being bad, doing so leaves me feeling powerless in so many way. It will be just another bad day, and I will indeed feel like I am losing out on life.

But if I say that it is a challenging or a rough day, then I feel capable of doing something to change–as much as possible–the situation that I find myself in at any given moment. This allows me to accomplish what I pledged here on my blog when I first started writing so many years ago, which was that I would try to make my emotional well-being less dependent upon the absence or presence of pain in my body. (And which, I am proud to say, I have been quite successful in accomplishing, even as my rheumatoid arthritis continues to progress.)

When it comes to living with chronic pain, if I wait until the pain goes away before I permit myself to have a “good” day, then I might be waiting forever.

Which is why, no matter how much pain I’m in, no matter how much I am unable to move my body–without denying in any way, physically or emotionally, what is going on–I remind myself of two things:

1. This is my life.
2. Today is a good day.

Yes, I continue to get knocked down…I have no doubt though, of my ability to continue to pick myself back up.

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