arthritis bloggers: what has arthritis taught you?

Voices: What Has Having Arthritis Taught You?

In recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we asked bloggers what they’ve learned from having arthritis, and what they want others to know.

Julie FauldsJulie Faulds

“Little Things Make All the Difference”

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the embodiment of a roller coaster – one day you’re up, the next day you rush to the bottom. The most important thing I have learned from my RA diagnosis (and all of the lovely off-shoot illnesses) and what I tell others is that I have to have patience with myself and use the wonderful support system with which I am blessed. And I know now exactly where my limits are at each peak and valley of the ride, and how far I can push them without doing my body harm.

I’ve also learned that just when you feel like you can’t do it any longer, help and understanding will come, some­times from the most unlikely places. Those “surprise angels” have helped me in ways that they will never understand. They have also made me ­realize that the little things – the ear to listen, the unexpected cup of coffee, the hand to steady you, the random act of kindness – can make all the difference. They and my support system have inspired me to look beyond my illness, beyond my bubble, to search for ways to reach out to other people who may be going through a rough time.

cathy kramer Cathy Kramer

“It Provides Life Lessons”

RA came into my life like a storm – strong and fierce. It left me defense­less against my own body. But storms quiet after a time, and so did my RA with the right combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Over the last 14 years of life with RA, one of the most important things I have learned is that patience is ­required, as it can take time and a lot of trial and error before finding the right medications.

RA has a plus side, too: It provides opp­ortunities for life lessons, if we are willing to listen. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Self-care. RA has a way of demanding that we listen to our body daily.
  • Asking for help. This is a tough one, but a side benefit is that it allows family and friends who want to ­relieve our pain, but can’t, a chance to do something to care for us.
  • Flexibility. Keeping schedules free enough that gentle care can be taken during a flare, but fun can be had on good days.
  • Reinventing oneself. Life will never be exactly like it was pre­diagnosis. We can either let RA own us or we can make it just one of the many parts of our life.

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