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.