Rheumatoid Arthritis: A training ground for cancer. That is how I think of it.
When I was diagnosed last year with RA, I read everything I could find on the subject. I was trying to figure out where I stood with the disease.
My favorite book was M.E.McNeil’s The First Year Rheumatoid Arthritis. The value of this book is that it offers an approach, a way of thinking, to come to terms with a chronic, progressive disease. It gave me the same help when I had to come to terms with the diagnosis of two different cancers.
• I journal regularly, expressing myself and establishing a timeline.
• I think of my medical providers as my team that does include my pharmacist, physical therapist as well as the 6 specialists that I am seeing currently.
• I see myself as the head of my team. I have confidence in my team. Each has a role. My role is to be proactive, to do my part.
• I am able to accept my current situation, relaxing into it, not fighting it.
• I have learned to enjoy what I have right now, today, this minute.
Cancer starts from one single cell taking a wrong turn. RA starts with pain and fatigue, probably more than one cell taking a wrong turn. Both take on a life of their own. Learning to roll with the situation is no mean trick. Situations are always changing.
I have never asked, “why me?”. It just is. I am rarely angry. I do flare just a little when I hit a new bump in the road. I reset myself and carry on. I have been discouraged. I have been scared. I am my own cheerleader so have excellent self talk. It really helps to keep that talk positive. Be kind to your body.
My future is quite uncertain. Less certain than most. How do I live with it? I clearly focus on the right now, not the past, not the future, but right now.