Sometimes I’m astonished by the deep wisdom I encounter when I read blogs written by people who have RA. Sometimes their words catch me with such suddenness that my jaw drops and I have to remember to breathe.
Lene Andersen is one of those bloggers. She’s the writer of the blog, The Seated View; her most recent guest-post at RA Central, “Staying Sane” is one of those jaw-droppers. In it, she writes about the pain and disability of rheumatoid arthritis: its capriciousness and relentlessness; its ability to stop us dead in the tracks of our lives; its effect on our emotions; and the terrible way it can send us to a dark place in our minds that makes our lives seem utterly worthless and worse, hopeless.
Yes, oh yes, I thought as I read the post. Lene’s RA is many fathoms worse than my own, but I know down to my toes of that which she writes. And like all of us, I live with the gnawing, low-grade fear that I, too, might one day be permanently disabled and sidelined by this disease. Lene writes:
“[T]his is what happens to you when you live in the equivalent of a disaster area, a situation where you never know if the sky is going to fall. The unpredictability of daily life with RA makes it really hard to look at the bright side of life.”
Amen, sister, I thought.
And then, without warning, she turns the course of the post around. Listen up: We absolutely must fight this RA-provoked descent into the dark.
“It sometimes takes a while, sometimes requires mental acrobatics worthy of a performer from Cirque du Soleil and every now and again, the grain of hope, of positive, of maybe that I find is logically ridiculous, a tortured Pollyanna moment, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is to find it, because it is that first step out, the first step to remembering that there is help out there, that you are not doomed, that you are not alone and that there is more than RA to your life.”
Amen, sister, again. I often feel like that tortured Pollyanna as I fight to put a positive spin on my RA. But the alternative is a terrible, tragic way to live.
Please take a few minutes and read Lene’s post at RA Central, and follow the links she embedded in the text, too. What she says there may give you the tools you need to get through this moment, this day, this month – this life – with joy instead of despair.
“RA doesn’t change who we are, it just changes how we do things,” writes Lene. And she is so right.
Yes, here I am, back again – and with almost the full use of my right hand restored. Talk about positive!
The hand surgeon was delighted, yesterday afternoon, with the way my dog bite wounds are healing. He felt that the new wrist pain I was experiencing was directly due to my RA and the fact that my hand had been splinted for several days, held stiff in one position. And indeed, I thought so, too. It did feel more like a flare than anything else. The good doc removed the splint and, after a close inspection, re-dressed the wounds in much lighter bandaging without it and told me to get busy moving my swollen fingers. I was, and am, delighted. And as you can see, I’m following my doctor’s orders.
Unfortunately, the results of the blood culture had not come back for some reason. He was puzzled, said he’d check into the situation, and that he’d get back to me as soon as he had some information. Though he didn’t say – he was noncommittal, as doctors can be when they aren’t sure – that my rapid healing means no blood infection, I am feeling very well. No fever. No malaise. And even the wrist flare, which was pretty nasty last night, is a mere shadow of itself this morning.
Instinct tells me that my blood is clean and healthy. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to have it confirmed today.
Now, I’m off for another soaking session. I don’t mind. It gives me a good excuse to stop everything and read Neil Gaiman’s “Anansi Boys” on my Kindle for 20 minutes. Complain? Not me.
*Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.