I grew up with a very active lifestyle, playing baseball and football, throwing the shot and disc at track events. In addition, I played golf and raced motorcycles, a weird combination I know, but I enjoyed all of these activities.
I enjoyed pushing myself beyond normal limits. When most people were content to watch tv or cook out on the weekends, I was with my friends racing through the roughest trails imaginable, or Mike and I would head out for a 50 to 80 mile bicycle ride. I started riding at least one century (100 mile bicycle ride) a year in 1986. In 1987 Mike, Dusty and I did the Ride AMOK, riding 130 miles through 4 states in one day.
I quit racing when my daughter was born, I wanted to be a full time dad for her. I loved spending time with her. We did things together, I would paint her fingernails and toenails, we had a date night one night every week until she outgrew it. Just she and I would go do whatever she wanted to do. I never thought about illness or disease, especially happening to me, I was invincible!
I am lucky, RA did not call on me til later in life. I could not imagine having to raise kids with RA, I know so many do and I honestly don't know how you do it. When it finally did hit me, I had never hurt so bad in my life. I would go to bed in pain, sleep in pain and wake up in pain. For the first 3-4 months after being diagnosed, there was no help or relief coming my way yet. I literally prayed to die. I sold all of my motorcycles and bicycles during this time, I thought my life was over.
I could not lift my arms over shoulder high, my hands were on fire and so swollen that I could not close them to make a fist, my feet, hips, knees and ankles all hurt equally bad.
I have been on 3 different meds for RA since being diagnosed. I am doing better, on a good day for me, I have a pain level of a 2-3. I hurt everyday, I honestly can't remember what it is like to wake up and not hurt any more. I did not ask for it, I do not like it, but I have accepted it and try to enjoy life the best that I can. Somedays that means taking one of my motorcycles out for a long hard ride while other days the best I can do is kick back in the recliner and watch an old movie or two. Living with RA has been an ongoing educational experience for me.
For me, I think one of the things I miss the most is not motorcycle racing (sure I would love to line up on the start line again with the smell of 2 stroke oil in the air) but I miss the time that RA has robbed from my family due to hurting, fatigue or the physical inability to go with them. RA is a cruel, invisible disease.