What Are Your Superhero Powers?

Based on the following list of items that have been submitted by readers of this blog, no one can doubt that we are a powerful group of superheroes!

Finding peace and happiness despite the physical issues. Living with RA. Writing this blog. Ability to smile through it and enjoy the moments. Design. Living with RA all by myself. A woman learning to appreciate who she is, and much much more. Photography. Traveling the world. Ride off-road motorcycles. Living with RA-but not suffering from it. Putting a smile on people’s faces. Cooking. DRAMA MAMA. Approaching my health issues with a positive outlook. Enjoying one day at a time. Does not try to let RA stop her from joining in on everything that life throws at me. Informing the world of the wonders of homeschooling two children. Knowing what I can and can not do. More are added everyday as I realize what my mind and body are capable of! Organizing this league of superheroes. Fighting the evil forces of RA medication free. Trying to get my pre RA fitness back! Super Mom. Dealing with bent fingers. Running a home. Learning how to deal. I love my life, R.A. or not. I have a positive attitude & freely share it. Speaks Japanese. Baking cookies. Blogger wannabe. Making my life count for something more than RA, OA and being old. Staying chipper despite wanting to go back to bed. Super Daughter. Dispenser of ((((HUGS)))). Random thoughts. On this new quest to conquer RA. Supporting the work of contemporary artists in a capitalist world. Cheerleader. A wife (pretty amazing one too if you ask me). On a mission to control RA and not to let RA control me. Takes care of disabled husband. Tough broad that doesn’t let anything get her down! Baking. Loves to cook and to can Salsas. Encourager, cheerleader, shoulder to lean on for young people with arthritis and RA. Being a comic strip character. Writing a blog/column. Care, love & keep up with my husband who started this journey with me only a few months after we married. Stopping the painkillers before I get addicted. Mom of 2 (1 preteen boy and 1 teenage GIRL). Ability to always make my daughter laugh and smile despite what my body feels like. Nurse by profession, medical researcher by necessity. Counting my blessings and staying positive on this unexpected journey with many rocky roads and steep hills to climb. I can take super naps!! Recent subscriber of “Arthritis Today” which I thought was for “old” people. Super Hyper-Hyperactivity (can clean house, cook food, care for children all without succumbing to the dreaded Uber Fatigue). Writing a blog. We are survivors of many thing including ails and pains. Super Wife. ‘Multi media artist’ (ok, I have ADD…I do a little of this, a little of that…). Crafting. Mom to 2 grown boys and 3 felines. Staying Positive. Wonderful kids and grandkids! Blogging about the ups and downs of RA and alternative medicine among many other things. Good Listener. I live with and care for my autistic brother. Spreading the word about good blogs. Crochet. Independence is a state of mind, not a list of tasks to be completed. Being a dad of a 12, 6, and 5 y/o. I’m also glad to be an advocate and voice for people with invisible disease to people of my age group. Single mom of three superkids who manages to juggle soccer hockey baseball and golf schedules around flares, infusions and therapy. Wife of 26 years. More of my powers are realized each and every day. Super Strength (can amazingly hold 2 toddlers during a flare of Lupus and Fibro pain). Loving two puppies. Just trying to get my body back in fighting order so I can finish college. Supporting my 60 year old mum who has a brand new RA diagnosis. Continued service while working as a firefighter. Making it through each day with RA, Fibromyalgia, Grave’s Disease, and Sjogren’s syndrome while working full time. Loving life. It’s a challenge that is worth fighting! Gardener. Excellent wife and mom and learning to be an excellent nana. Student. Wife. Listener for the older crowd who have arthritis and RA. Writing. Always good for a few laughs. Losing weight, despite the Prednisolone. Knitting. Wife of 10 years (!). Spreading the word about my arch nemesis…the disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis! Raised a daughter. Living with RA and Fibro. I can make anyone laugh!! Cooks, cleans, shops, gardens, and is a freelance writer and editor. Patient. I love to sew and read books. CABG X6 survivor! Living a full, active, happy life with RA, scoliosis and cardiomyopathy. Lots of hugs to give. Swimmer (lapsed). Laughing at the absurd. Cheerleader. Mom to 2 dogs, 2 cats, an assorted bunch of fish and any stray that happens our way. Distraction. Mom of a fabulous daughter with Down Syndrome who will always live with me! Having a wonderful husband. Loves to explore new cities. Restoring order in the kingdom is the primary objective of my “job”– disabled stay at home mom/taxi driver…hehe. Knowledge is POWER! Traveler on the RA journey, meeting new superheroes every day. Husband of 40 years. Learning how to accept RA. Became Autoimmune Girl my freshman year of college and most recently leveled up to FM Girl. Wife to one full time construction worker/college student. Nurse (lapsed). Good mother. Musician. MOPS steering team. Concentrating on the many joys and blessings in my life. Have more hobbies than there are hours in the day. Taking care of our 5 pets and a husband! Good company. Mother of two grown children. Disabled nurse. Mother to my three boys. Balancing life after college, my new career, a boyfriend, friendships, and family – all while maintaining the millennial pace. Coupon shopping queen. Photography as a hobby & stress reliever. Dancer. Studying in the week. Managing pain through meditation. Open to trying every unconventional RA treatment under the sun. I work a 12 hour shift 4 days a week as a pressman (printing). Reffing roller derby when I can. 2 kiddies under 3 (who understand that sometimes Mumma can’t wrestle!) Working full time in sales & marketing. Running a home. I have a very large vegetable garden which brings me peace & self-worth. Work long hours in a warehouse pulling orders. Photography. Mother of three college age boys. I can read, write and speak Spanish. Owner of two titanium shoulders, with cadaver bone grafts, one fused wrist with metal rods, one foot with screws, the other foot-soon to be fused. Super Grandma. Homeschooling my kids. Daughter of Diabetes Gal and niece to her sister, RA/FM Gal. Accepting RA as a part of who I am. Workout 4 days a week. Supersonic hearing (Can hear any of her 3 children turn over in bed across a house). Care, love & keep up with my 2 Doberman Pinschers. Staying positive and happy is the best medicine! Working full-time as a nurse. I am a wanna be blogger and an ultimate crafter. Sabbath School teacher. Knitter. Being a good wife, friend and daughter! Working as much as I can. Mom of three boys. Living with RA. Cooking & baking. Being a PROUD military wife. Power four wheeler. Carrying on a semi-normal lifestyle while living with RA. Good enough mother and wife. Having a positive outlook on life. Multilingual. Good grandmother. Enjoy gardening, decorating and photography. Loving daughter. Working full time with children. Keeping my sidekick (hubby with fibro) on his toes. Mom to a 9 yr. old. Blogging. Momma to a wonderful furbaby. Living with ∞itis (RA, etc). Eternal student. Every superhero has a sidekick …right? My sidekick buddy that helps me is a Great Pyrenees with a mohawk named Frankie. Being a mom. Wonderful mom to 3 pom fur-kids. Take care of a 3.5 acre yard. Expert pinochle player. Great wife, mother, cook, clean, taxi driver, and fairy godmother. Keeping sane through a lot of uncertainty. Homeschool. Figuring which medical concoction works for now. Living with RA. Trying not to get fat. Gardening. Working full-time in the crazy hr/telecom world. Cat lover. Camping. Kissing my lovely husband. Epidemiologist (lapsed). Worked full time as a journalist. Good cook. Going back to work in January…to be a great nurse again. Have a great sense of humor when it comes to most things. Working to support myself and being a student is hard but my will is strong. Mom of 8 great kids. Ability to make it through the tough times. Cooking. A-1 wife. Spent 20+ years as a nurse practitioner treating folks with R.A. Quilter. Regularly uprooting myself and moving around the world. I love to read, swim, cook, bake, and take care of my home. EFL Teacher (just started full-time work again after a couple of years off). Wife. Learning how to deal. RA advocate. Working 12 hour shifts in the ER on my feet for 13 hours. Worrying…lots of worrying. Living with RA. Writing a blog. Living a God-centric lifestyle. Running a business from home. Great sense of humor. Continue the RA journey refusing to let it ruin my happy life. Licensed Ins Agent. Keeping track of 12 grandchildren. Working with service dog. Excellent wife. Blogging. Keeping sidekick (husband with heart problems and fibromyalgia) entertained. Disabled nurse. Mum to 3 year old girl and 8 month old boy. Living with RA away from home. Understanding kids. Making popcorn. Taking long drives with hubby. Fighting fatigue to keep going. Refusing extra painkillers. Working my butt off and hopefully getting my phd. Dog walker (sometimes). Smiling in the face of adversity. Enjoying what I have. Taking care of family, husband and 2 daughters. Appreciates the gifts that the world offers each day to those who take the time to look. Trying to adjust to freelancing as a graphic designer and photographer. Working at Target. Running a small business full time. Educating people that disability is not something to be scared of! High tolerance toward pain. Mother of two active boys (10 & 8). Juggling a Uni degree with “aunty candi” duties and the prospect of joint replacement whilst keeping a smile on my face. Drawing. No human partner, but living with her 3 Superhero Cats (Spider, Lugosi & Ruby) who she finds tolerate her chronic illness so much better than any human that she has met. All sorts of needle-crafts. Getting up and going to work each day. Killing zombies. Loves music and photography. Living with (mild) RA. A law school graduate. Getting dressed, bathing and walking without assistance. My ability to mind surf as I can’t physically , YET. Being married. Embroidery. Toughing out life without medication so we can get preggers. Feeling pretty well and praying to stay that way. Full-time college student at a university. Photography. Educating people that not all people with Arthritis have Rheumatoid… ahem …anyways. Loving my husband. Pink Energy that allows me to go back to school. Work as a consultant. Continue walking on the beach. Spending quality time with my family. Using a supercool electric toothbrush, because a regular one hurts to hold. Positive Thinking. Feline & other animal communications. Works from home as a web & graphic designer. Defying stupid RA-beating suggestions from well-meaning friends with a single squawk. Surviving 2 hip replacements. Working full time. Into Goth/Metal/Rock music. Getting on with life. Painting. Sitting at home while my friends go out and party/shop/be normal, continue living my life when I just want to amputate my body from my head and put it on Jessica Alba’s body. Smiling through that Enbrel sting. Learning about myself through travel and introspection. Having a dead guy (cadaver bone) in my ‘boo boo’ arm. Would be marathon walker. Hobby (and sometimes paid) photographer (has a couple of photography websites to show off her pictures). Living with RA. College Student. Fatigue fighting and staying healthy are two Superhero Powers that I need work on. Close relationships with several amazing doctors/friends! Writing my blog. Chilling with friends. Research, research and more research, saving the world one germ at a time (in the military). Employing Personal Assistants. Being just a little odd… being perpetually young at heart. Working as a waiter in the weekend with my colleague RA. Only taking otc drugs. Watcher of Star Trek, especially Voyager. Do talks about RA to medical students and generally try to raise awareness. Being married. Believing that I can. Making sure that everyone I know knows about RA and knows that WE can. Keeping weight on this body and running when my right foot will allow it! Mother of two gorgeous and brilliant children (boy – 13, girl – 12) and one 3 year old Yorkie who sits on my lap and comforts me on my bad days. Being. Abandoning walking stick…not knowing how long it’ll last. Photography. Crochet. Working full time and being a waterman! Enjoying every single day as you never know what life will bring. Complete and utter geek lover of computers and video games. Working full time. Loving husband. Convincing NHS that I need anti-TNF therapy. Getting anti-TNF therapy and have it revolutionize my physical. I’m a teenager living life to the fullest; no matter what my disease sends my way. Artist and writer, even on days when my hands hurt almost too badly to pick up a pencil. Part-time feline management (three cats, one wonderful hubby who job-shares on the cat front). Living with RA (mild to moderate these days). Working for the Government. Cooking. Smiling, having fun and simply being fabulous…no matter what!! Big/little sister, and soon-to-be aunt. I’ve overcome my fear of needles with Enbrel. Raising awareness about all types of arthritis. Crafting. Being crazy I love to make folks laugh and smile as it’s a great medicine. Taking care of my family. Teaching. Having a bionic knee, hip, screws in feet, waiting on new shoulders and knuckles. Being a mom. Being a scientist. My cat Rosie. Start dancing again. Pouring from a gallon of milk, by using the edge of a table or countertop. Great sense of humour. Fighting fatigue. Getting out of bed in the AM. Taking one day at a time. Ability to make a pun about just about anything (it’s called Pununciation Disorder); love my friends and family, still working (though wish it wasn’t so hard to wake up in the mornings), love my crazy cat Willow, and wish that I had the time and energy to write that novel that’s been banging around in my head for years. One titanium knuckle, every limb decorated with delightful scarring from operations to straighten and fix limbs/joints, awaiting my first hip replacement. I am also a superhero because I survived two burst brain aneurysms 4 years ago – with no damage, unlike the RA. So hoorah for all of our superhero powers! Academics (I want to be a rheumatologist), staying happy through everything (including giving up sports), taking painful Humira shots, and loving life. Invisibility and positivity cloak; a more than full time exec at a fortune 500 that keeps a smile on her face and can find the silver lining in any situation; spurred on by the faces and love of two small grandchildren that remind me of what really matters in life – staying strong and positive so I can enjoy them for years to come Former attorney practicing in the toughest area of law there is…family and matrimonial law. Currently a college professor corrupting young legal minds at an undergraduate college. Loving wife to the world’s greatest husband/caregiver and mom to the world’s coolest dog. Upbeat and nearly always smiling and happy. Work full-time and love it. I have 3 fabulous grandchildren who love me to bits and are my very heart and soul. RA will not take that away from me! Communicating how I’m feeling and what I’m going through to the people in my life, without guilt. Not being afraid to tell my non-loved ones (co-workers, acquaintances) that I have RA, and explaining what it is so that they might better understand me. Living with RA. Working full time. Loving my baby sister “Hermanita” (Spanish version of “Sis” – pronounced like air-mon-eat-ah). Learning to speak Spanish. Gardening (when I can). Taking care of my 1 and 3 year old boys and a husband with massive heart problems. Learning how RA works and fighting it in my mind and body. Learning to live with RA, Positive thinking, Telling people about RA, Loving life, My pets, Finding the right treatment so I can go back to work, My very understanding partner and friends, My walking stick and wheelchair. Living with RA, coping with non-understanding people around me, helping others, hoping. Living with Fibromyalgia, RA, IBS, CFS, and anemia, working as a full-time high school English teacher and a mother of 6 children, coping with people who lack understanding about the degree of my pain and how debilitating it can be at times, helping others, and thinking positively. Ultra runner turned weightlifter when possible – even if the weights have to be strapped on when the grip strength isn’t there! Martial artist who’s figuring out how to practice from an occasional wheelchair. It’s cane-fu. Super powers of patience recently learned, mainly used to explain RA. New powers also include the ability to work full time whilst really just wanting a job in a sleep lab. Learning to live with RA and my new “needs”. Learning that medication is a “need” now. No more missed doses. Learning to make exercise a “need” now. The wrong kind does do harm. Learning to eat specific foods is a “need” now. Learning that I “need” help in that catagory. Learning I need help with not being so afraid of the future RA has for me. Learning to live with pain. Loving my active life in spite of this stupid disease. Counting my blessings and thanking God for each and every day. Living with pain and major fatigue. Having patience with the people around me trying to understand my disease, Learning my new limitations and learning how to not let them limit me! Loving life in so much pain, patience with understanding and explaining RA, self-forgiveness when I have to do less than I’d like, laughing, laughing, laughing! Playing guitar, writing songs I sing only for me and close friends and family, teaching 2nd grade at an international private school in the Middle East, having the energy to wake up at 5AM every morning to teach 22 needy 7 year-olds life-long learning skills, writing a blog about my travels and experiences abroad. Living with RA, Psoriasis & Fibromyalgia. I love to paint with acrylics and enjoy photography. And adore my grandson who’s 2 and brightens my day more than anything else can. Learning to except that I may not be able to work much longer and trying to figure out what will I do if disability don’t kick in quick enough. One thing for sure, the pain reminds me that I’m very much ALIVE. Counting my BLESSINGS. Wonderwoman Nana of 6 incredible grandchildren whom I adore, proud mother of 2 fantastic grownup children, Flea Market junkie, treasure hunting at thrift store maniac, collector extraordinaire, techno freak, lover of learning, Facebook fanatic finding old friends galore and Farmvilling myself to death, avid reader and online searcher for RA information and waiting for THE CURE! Most of my RA days are not so bad at all, taking MTX and occasionally prednisone for flare ups, ignoring any pain until it gets too bad to ignore any longer, going on about my life as best I can, keeping my glass half full rather than half empty, looking forward to warm weather. I have been working in education for a number of years until I lost my most recent position at a college via the underground, beaurocratic railroad I didn’t know existed until then. Finished a Master’s Degree in educational technology in May 2010 in an attempt to find a better paying job which has been elusive since my graduation. Mommy to the best kid ever, Ability to escape death-defying medical crisis, Making broke-down and pathetic look good since 1999. Still working as PR director for a national hospital company and traveling as much as possible with my wonderful hubby. Teaching at a small liberal arts college and not missing one day of work. Sign Language interpreter working with deaf students in grades K-12, also interpreting for the Deaf at church and in various settings. My husband is Deaf and I have a son getting ready to graduate from High School and go into the Marines. Being on swim team and color guard even though the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to, being able to get through weekly methotrexate treatments, and getting through a solid 7 year flare with no remissions or breaks. Having the smarts to get to a MD pdq, When I hear the tornado coming! Didn’t do that one time, woke up in ICU with a intubation tube in my throat. I had been there three days, after an overdose of sleeping pills. I am sorry, and I’ll never do it again, but I never thought I’d do it the first time. I found a great psychiatrist that helped me understand the chemical changes in the brain when you have chronic disease, I am on Meds, and I do call her immediately, if I feel out of control at all. Sooo, I guess using the phone is my super power!!! Living with r.a. and it’s deformities, fatigue, taking care of my family (3 kiddos), baking:), cooking, managing to exercise and eat right (even though I love my sweets:)) Still wishing I could make some people understand some days I just can’t do as much as I’d like. Patience, patience, patience. I’ve been living with the deformities and the fatigue for years but i don’t let it stop me…I’m a single mom of two beautiful kids and a nurse and I will continue to fight this illness with all have for as long as I can. Finding the strength to entertain my 9 month old baby brother. Trying to stay positive. NOT laying in bed all the time even though I am so tired. Getting through the day without sleep. Being able to continue my day even though I could scream from the pain. I am unbreakable . Resilience, and managing to look ok despite being wonky and slightly deformed! Loving all creatures big and small. Being absurdly and at times, annoyingly positive. Making fun of bad situations. Seeing the potential joy in every day. Painfully working 25 hours every week while caring for a large family. Enjoying Life, Laughing, Loving. Wife, mother, grandmother; working 20 hours a week as a fundraiser for a non-profit; trying to accept that I cannot do what I used to do BUT can still do a lot and thankful for that. Blessed with a wonderful family, great friends and a very supportive church family. The feat of doing things that have become difficult and somehow managing most of the time. I am also an avid crafter. Scrapbooking, cross stitching, etc. Just went through having my right foot completely re constructed. Hopefully in a month I am waling again and not on wheels! Wrists, shoulders, knees, feet, ankles, and any other joint that decides to join the battle! Mom to two, heartbreaker to many. Professional swearing machine, and people watcher. I can twitter faster than the speed of light, I make a better BBQ than Bobby Flay, My mom powers rival that of June Cleaver, I swear better than any trucker I know and my pop culture knowledge is mind-bending. Being a WSU alumni (GO COUGS!), enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and getting a one up on my disease instead of the other way around! Prayer, Family and Friends that care, Love, Cooking, never believing in the word “incurable”. Not letting it drag you down. Hacer feliz a mi familia, jugar sin importar nada más, sonreir siempre, hablar sin parar, mirar en lo profundo del alma de las personas, dar abrazos que te dan profunda paz y te alegran el corazón. Dad, husband, writer, translator, belief in exercise, wish the Force could be used to banish RA… Mum, wife, friend jewelry maker, Fab Xbox gamer, love of family, friends and nature. Loving & accepting what I have (except RA!). Love of learning, especially (now) RA. Also, sharing what I learn through blogging and teaching. Learning to accept the present moment. Kicking RA’s a$$, mom, wife, lover of corgis, teacher of English to 13 year olds. Being in remission (kind of). Love to learn, traveling with ra, blogging, Mom, Wife, Gramma, Auntie, believing that the glass is always half full and laughter truly is the best medicine. Teaching high school, coaching soccer, working out to keep active, running on very little sleep, laughing a lot. Living life to the fullest, having a sense of humor, beach bum, and lover of animals. “Denial” it gets me through some days, having a warped sense of humor, loving and living life to the fullest. “Steriod Strength”……just like Popeye and his spinach, when I take my Prednisone I am invincible. You combine those with all my pain pills….MOVE OVER Superman. Unless I am fighting my nemesis “Sir Flash Flare”, I am down for the count and the battle is over. Live,Love and definitely laugh…I have RA, RA does NOT have me! I have a life to live regardless of the pain, Single momma of two beautiful boys, full-time employee for a preschool! Wife, mother, mema and sister. Get up every day no matter how hard it is and make the best of my day. Try to spread the truth about autoimmune diseases….now if I could just get people to listen!!! And helping my daughter and son in law run our very fun dog business. Mom to 2 cats, studying to be a teacher, currently web developer. It’s my hope to one day work with superheroes of all different sorts at the elementary level. Working, writing horrific gore and sci-fi, photography, organic gardening, dressing up as movie characters and supervillains (!) to scare people for charity.

Superhero Wall Of Fame

Do you want to add your own superhero powers to this list? You can do so by adding your name to the Superhero Wall Of Fame!

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

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My Happy Place

Last week, after having shared that I had been stuck in bed for a few days and just needed to get out of the room, I received the following message from Christy S. in Australia:

“I’ve noticed some recent articles you’ve written talking about being stuck in bed for long periods of time and needing to escape outside when you got better.  I’ve been in a bad flare for about two weeks and I got really tired of staring at my closet doors which is what I see when I’m lying in bed.  So, I printed out large copies of a ton of my favourite photos that my husband and I have taken over the years.  Now I have fun and beauty and adventure and happiness when I look at my closet doors.”

What a beautiful idea! (The photo that she Christy sent me of her closet doors–shown here–was even more beautiful.)

Inspired to do the same, I spent yesterday afternoon in my home office, going through thousands of digital photos that I’ve taken over the past decade (a joy unto itself). With a pack of premium photo paper and my inkject printer, I set about creating my own happy place.

These are the results:

No matter how disabling my rheumatoid arthritis might get in the future, no matter how much time I have to spend in  bed, I will never be “stuck” like I once used to. I now just have to look at some of the photos on my closet doors, and I will instantly be transported to some of my favorite places, buildings, and art museums around the world.

I will, indeed, be in my happy place.

Christie, thank you for sharing your idea! Here’s hoping that many others are inspired to create their own happy places.

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

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Help A Superhero! A Personal Appeal From Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy

Dear Friends,

At the start of this New Year, I find myself writing to you on a very personal note.

As many people who follow my blog and my Facebook page know, even as I continue to improve my ability to manage and cope with the challenges of living with the pain and disability, my rheumatoid arthritis continues to progress. While I have surrounded myself with some of the most caring health care professionals that one could imagine, including but not limited to my rheumatologist who made a house call this past Sunday, my current treatment options are no longer proving to be as effective as they once used to be.

My personal situation is further complicated by the fact that treatment options are quite limited in the country where I reside part of the year. In order gain access to any of the newer treatments, I must travel to and explore options either in other countries here in South America, or in my home country of the United States. Once you add in my very limited financial resources that result from my inability to maintain gainful employment, it is quite easy to understand the magnitude of this challenge that I currently face. (I did apply for Social Security Disability benefits more than three years ago; I have been denied twice and am currently in my third appeals process.)

Over the past couple of days, I have made this promise to myself: one of my top priorities in the coming weeks and months is going to do everything with my control to gain access to the health care and treatment options that I so very need. I am asking you to please help me achieve this goal. I am not asking for money. I am only asking for five minutes of your time. I will soon be submitting financial assistance applications to various well-known medical institutions within the United States, and want to guarantee (as much as possible) that my applications get noticed!

Here is how you can help me:

• Write a brief character reference letter (1-2 paragraphs, guidelines/hints included in first comment below.)

• Sign your letter with your name and country of residence. (Complete address is not required.)

• Email your letter to rheumatoidarthritisguy@gmail.com

• Please note, these letters will be attached to the financial assistance applications that I submit. They will not be shared in any other manner.

I hope to start submitting some of these applications as early as the end of this month. If you could please send in any letters of support before January 25, 2013 this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your friendship, help, and support. I wish each and every one of you a very happy and healthy New Year!

Cheers,

RA Guy

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Best & Worst Of 2012

THE BEST OF 2012

Our Hand Can! Photo Book

Every now and then when I need a little extra inspiration, I pull out my copy of the Our Hands Can! photo book and start flipping through the beautiful photographs and moving stories of people who live with all different types of inflammatory arthritis. When I return the book to the shelf, I smile at the knowledge that this book continues to reach all corners of the world. This book not only helps to unite and inspire the inflammatory arthritis community, but also helps to raise awareness of these diseases with which we live.

More info: www.showusyourhands.org/our-hands-can-photo-book/

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

While a student at Columbia University in the early 90s, I once bicycled–but never walked–across the Brooklyn Bridge. So during a recent return visit to New York City I decided that I would do as much, even with my crutches and all! It was a sunny, hot August afternoon and as the architecture-geek inside of me admired the lovely shadows cast by the cables on the bridge, I thought it would be cool to capture a corresponding photo of the shadows that were being cast by my crutches.

RA Guy Sculpture

What can I say, other than that this is the coolest thing ever! (Thanks again, Donna.)


Meeting–In Person–Some of the Supportive People Who Read My Blog

While traveling in the U.S. this summer, I had the opportunity to meet these lovely ladies, all of whom live with rheumatoid arthritis and read this blog. It was really nice to be able to sit down to some pleasant conversation and good food. I had some other meet-ups in the works, including one in New York City, which had to be cancelled due to personal issues and schedule/travel changes…but hope to sometime in the future be able to meet many more people who follow my blog!

Show Us Your Hands!

With the aim of advancing its mission of uniting and inspiring people who live with inflammatory arthritis, and in line with its values of positivity, community, diversity, and transparency, Show Us Your Hands! began operating as a nonprofit charity organization during the month of December. This could not have been possible without the support of the community and the dedicated efforts of the Show Us Your Hands! Board of Directors. Stay tuned, as exciting new programs are announced in the coming year!

More Info: www.showusyourhands.org

THE WORST OF 2012

Cease and Desist Letter

Receiving a cease and desist letter from an existing nonprofit organization, threatening Show Us Your Hands! with legal action. (Didn’t your parents ever teach you to be nice to the new kid in town?) Here’s hoping for more emphasis on what really matters most to our community: increased awareness of inflammatory arthritis in 2013!

Thanks to each and every person who helped make 2012 a wonderful year here on Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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

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My New Year’s Affirmation

Right around this time of year, it’s customary to start sharing our resolutions for the New Year; those things that we’ve been wanting to accomplish but have not done so far. In this blog post, as 2012 comes to a close, I’m not going to be sharing any new resolutions. Instead, I am going to affirm the things that have worked for me so well, up until now.

Expectations Management
This isn’t just some trendy term from the Harvard Business Review. For me, it’s become an integral part of my life, and has actually become somewhat of a miracle worker. You see, most of us are familiar with the aspect of disappointment that results from not having achieved what we had hoped to, but I think what exactly we hope for is a part of the equation that often goes less unnoticed. Now, I’m certainly not advocating for losing hope or for lowering one’s expectations…in fact, what I would advise is the exact opposite. It is absolutely essential, however, to not only set realistic expectations, but to set expectations which are in line with one’s own capabilities. If I wake up thinking I’m going to accomplish ten things on my to-do list, chances are I’m going to be disappointed. While it might be possible to accomplish five to seven things, I’m probably going to finish in a worst state than which I started. Figuring out the two or three things I want to do, and doing them well, it going to increase my chances of being able to do the same tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. (And on those days when my list of accomplishments is limited to getting out of bed, taking a bath, grooming myself, and getting back in bed, I do indeed feel a sense of complete success. What’s the use of burdening myself with thoughts of failure?)

Think Before You React
Writing this blog has exposed me to a wide range of different ways of thinking, which I absolutely love. It has also brought me into contact with some individuals who, for one reason or another, vehemently disagree with the way I cope with my rheumatoid arthritis, and who feel the need to tell me as much in words that are not always kind, respectful, or polite. As a normal human being, I must admit that these messages sometimes make me feel defensive; they sometimes make me feel like I personally am being attacked. After a long discussion with my dental hygienist last week (I love that I have ended up with so many multi-functional healthcare professionals in my life!), I finally came to accept (even though many friends have told me the same over the past few years) that such messages had nothing to do with me, and had everything to do with the person on the other end. So I’ve promised myself that anytime I receive such a message in the future, in addition to following the non-engagement policy that has served me so well to date, I will not only not internalize the unhappiness that is being transmitted in such messages, but I will externalize positive energy, in the hopes that *all* of us find peace in the challenges we encounter.

Help Yourself By Helping Others
I always grew up being told that no matter how little we might have, we always had more than many others. As such, we needed to learn how to share, and how to help others. Now that I live in one of the poorest countries of South America, this lesson continues to be driven home. While I’m relatively poor compared to my friends and family in the United States and other parts of the worlds, I’m considered by many to be well-off here where I live. (It’s part of this dichotomy that can be confusing at times; while I am unable to afford healthcare in the U.S. I am able to afford 100% out-of-pocket private healthcare here.) My intent, however, is not to focus on the financial aspect of helping others (even though I have been the recipient of such help many times, and can attest to the huge difference it can to a person who is being forced to decide between medicines, utilities, and groceries). Helping someone else just makes you feel good, and who wouldn’t want that? Most importantly, helping others helps stop in its tracks any feelings of victim-hood. It also does double-duty, as when I am down in the ruts, helping others serves as a reminder of how much I can actually help myself.

Don’t Try To Control That Which Is Outside Of Your Control
(Don’t you just love how some of the most life-transforming beliefs are so simple, yet so absolutely difficult to fully accept and achieve?) Years ago, when I was not keeping up with the challenges of living with rheumatoid arthritis, a close family member would repeatedly tell me: you may not be able to control your pain, but you can control how you react to it. This was not something that I was told just one time, or even a dozen of times. It was something that I heard over and over and over again. With time, it slowly started to sink in, until it eventually became one of the first thoughts that would enter my mind during times of crisis. (Thus pushing aside thoughts such as I can’t deal with this anymore, or what will I do if the pain gets worse?) These words continue to remind me that no matter how much pain I might be in, no matter how upside-down (throw in a few more dimensions and then you might be able to really understand what it feels like) my world might seem at times, one thing will continue to remain unchanged: I am in control of my thoughts. And being in control of my thoughts, especially during times of crisis, is a true gift that I can apply to so many aspects of my life beyond just the chronic illness.

Learning Opportunities
Just as every day is a new opportunity to learn how to best move through this journey called life, so to is every new flare a chance to figure out how to better cope with the pain and disability. Adopting this attitude also goes a long way in removing the fear that I thought was inherent in my future with rheumatoid arthritis. I no longer dread the next flare, the next morning that I’m stuck in bed and cannot even roll over, or the next time that I am completely unable to use my hands. I can’t necessarily claim that I will ever look forward to such items, but I can say that I really do look forward to the opportunity to learn something new when I find myself in one of these situations. I have found that as my rheumatoid arthritis continues to progress, such a way of thinking is absolutely critical. Yes, the pain and the disability continue to present greater challenges…but I am confident that by continuing to build upon what I already have learned, I will continue to be able to meet the challenges that are placed in my path.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful 2013!

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

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