Monthly Archives: April 2010

How I See My Rheumatoid Arthritis

Yesterday I decided to stop by the market on my way home after dropping Nate at a friend’s house.  Kevin and I ran (and I use the term loosely) into the store and picked up a few odds and ends that we needed to get us through the week.

I was lucky and got a good parking space close to the entrance.  I normally don’t mind a spot that is a bit away from the door because it gives me a chance to walk off the stiffness before I actually make it into the store.

While I have made improvements with my walking, lately it is a deliberate act, not something that comes with ease.  Things got complicated when Max, my 110 pound golden retriever ran head first into my knee when he got spooked.  So everyday I have been moving that knee a lit bit more and it is coming along, but it has been slow.

Kevin and I made our way through the market, picked up what we needed and a few things that we didn’t and checked out.  We got to the car and my little helper opened the hatch to the back of the vehicle and helped me load the packages.  When we were finished, he took the carriage to the return spot and hopped in the car.

While he was returning the cart, I was slowly trying to get my sore knee in the vehicle.  It took me a couple of minutes to maneuver myself so that I was not in pain trying to accomplish this simple task. When I had finally got myself situated and started to put my seat belt on, I was startled by the honk of the horn coming from the car beside me.  There in the neighboring car was a little old lady gesturing with her handicap placard, mouthing the words “You need one of these.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I was stunned.  It never occurred to me that I might need a handicap placard.  All I could think is “How bad do I look?”

What I did was cry.  I couldn’t help myself.  I just burst into tears.

From the backseat I heard, “That lady is a jerk!”, “You are not handicap.”

I couldn’t even respond to my sweet boy.  I just cried more.  He didn’t realize I was crying and when he did, he unbuckled and climbed in the front with me hugged me and cried with me.  He just  kept repeating “You are not handicap. You are not handicap.”

At this point I had to pull myself together so that I could talk to my son.  We sat for a few minutes and talked about the fact that I can’t do some of the things that other people can do and what handicap means to each of us.  We also discussed that the lady next to us probably had the best of intentions, even though she made me cry.

All of this has made me question, what handicap really means to me.

Am I handicap?

Well yes and no.

Is it more than a physical state of being?

I think so.

Am I not being honest with myself about how my body is doing?

I really don’t know right now.

I am still working on the answers for me.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Survival Mode

These past several months have been an exercise in survival.  I am feeling better than I have in months, but I still have a way to go before I am at a place where rheumatoid arthritis is not in every other thought.  I have come to a place of survival.

All this down time has made me wonder how many of us are living with this disease and how many of us are in survival mode?

What is survival mode? For me it is getting through another day.  Surviving the day with rheumatoid arthritis.  Not exactly my idea of fun, but I am getting by. I wonder what survival means to everyone else with this disease.  While survival is better than giving up it is not where I want to be.

I am an optimist so I believe that this is just a temporary setback on my journey to living well with RA.  The idea that this survival mode is a permanent situation is not something that I am willing to entertain ever.  I have too much fight left in me to settle for half way.

I am grateful to be out of bed. Two months ago I was flat on my back all day long.  I am grateful that I am able to tackle small tasks on a daily basis so that I feel that I have accomplished something.  But this is not where I want to be.  I know that I have a ways to go and that this will probably take longer that I originally anticipated, but I am in this for the long haul and I am determined to find a new way to live with this disease without adding toxic chemicals to my body.

Here is what I have been doing so far and it seems to be having an impact on my overall wellness.

  • I am monitoring my diet and have eliminated dairy from my diet. I have found out the hard way that if I do ingest something that has dairy in it I will swell. I have been adding and subtracting different foods from my diet to see what is having an impact on inflammation. So far dairy has had the biggest impact.
  • I have been taking Flaxseed Oil (I can’t do fish oil supplements) and Vitamin D daily.
  • I have found that mediation helps me sleep better and makes mornings a little more manageable.
  • I am starting to be able to exercise ( I am using this term loosely because the rate of speed that I walk would hardly be called exercise, but it is movement and more than my body has seen in months.)
  • I am careful about what I eat and have lost over 25 pounds since January 1, 2010.
  • I spend time every day visualizing what it looks like to be free of stiffness and pain.

So far I am improving and I hope to be back to my old self soon.

In all honesty I have felt this bad on methotrexate.  I have had the same levels of pain, inflammation, and stiffness while on mtx so I have been pleasantly surprised at my progress and so far happy with my decision to look for an alternative solution to mtx.  It has made me wonder on more than one occasion how well the mtx was really working for me.

So for me, tomorrow is a new day with new hope for less pain and inflammation and life mode not just survival mode.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin