The first six years into my journey with RA has truly been a learning experience. Even today, I continue to learn from it. Here are 10 things that I have learned from my new life with RA. By no means is this all that I have learned, just sort of my top 10 list.
1) I have learned that I am often my own worst enemy. I am bad, even today, about pushing myself to do more, even when I'm in a flare.
2) I have learned to recognize a flare before it gets bad. After first being diagnosed, I thought that flares were just something you lived through, I didn't know (nor was I told by my first rheumatologist), that I could control, to some degree, the severity of flare ups.
3) I have learned to alter my lifestyle to allow myself to have fun even though I do have RA. I raced off road motorcycles through the woods for 14 years but have adapted to dual sport riding instead. It's not as exciting, but hey, I'm still riding!
4) I have learned that having RA is not the end of the world, yes your world changes. You still enjoy life and those brief moments that you can do something pain free make you feel like your on top of the world now.
5) I have learned that even just a little bit of exercise each day makes me feel better. However, there are some days when I just hurt too bad, and I don't workout. I don't feel guilty about it either like I did when I was younger and healthy.
6) I have learned not to worry about things that used to drive me nuts. It has not easy for me giving up this control but it has been for the best.
7) I have learned that not all rheumatologist are created equal. I had a lousy one to start off with, but I could get in to see him immediately (should have been a warning indicator right there). A year later I was doing some better but due to insurance change at work had to select a different one. That was the one of the best things that has ever happened to me regarding my RA.
8) I have learned to slow down and appreciate the beauty of every day that God gives us on this earth. The beauty of a sunrise or sunset, a summer rain, a rainbow, a fresh snow, the list is endless. Most of these I was too busy to stop and appreciate in my pre-RA days.
9) I have learned that I can make a difference. I have been slowly educating the people I work with (about 30 in my department) about RA and most of them do seem to care and understand. Just a couple of month's ago a fellow worker approached me and said "I just found out my aunt has RA now." I told her that I work with a guy that has it and started telling her things that I do or don't do to try to help her with it. That is not the only situation like that, but at that point I realized that they really are listening.
10) Everyone you meet has a sure fire guaranteed remedy. I just listen politely, thank them and go on about my day. It seems 90% of the people get RA confused with osteoarthritis or just about anything else like gout, shingles, flu or a broken leg. But they do know what will fix it though!