Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis; Nothing Normal

RA – Rheumatoid Arthritis:
I suffer from this disease, yes it is a disease not just an “aching” problem caused by old age. People see me and notice minor differences to my “outer” looks than a few years ago but they cannot “see” my pain. People automatically hear “arthritis” and think “oh I have a touch of it myself, my knee, or my finger, etc.” I think once people understand that osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are as different as night and day it will be understood. The difference between the two always make me wish – rheumatoid arthritis be called by a different name, maybe get rid of the word arthritis and replace with disease. It may have people think in a different direction. Without the word arthritis, there won’t be the automatic connection with osteoarthritis. RA is more than arthritis, it is a systemic disease, which means it can affect other organs in the body.

The list of  Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms include - joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, and depression. Rheumatoid arthritis stiffness can make you feel like you are moving through wet cement. Your joint pain can feel like you sprained your knees, shoulders, neck, and wrists all at the same time. That’s because rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects your whole body.  Having an unpredictable disease liker rheumatoid arthritis can be an emotional roller coaster. The toll that active rheumatoid arthritis inflammation takes is often under-appreciated. 
First let me say. There is nothing normal in my life anymore.”  I have sense of imbalance in life due to the increased need for rest and sleep and feelings of frustration and shame. I used to be able to open a bottle cap from my water bottle without thinking, now it is a chore. I am fatigued most of the day; my body hurts in ways that unless you can really “feel” it, make it difficult to comprehend. I cope as best I can, but at times it overwhelms my daily life and thoughts. Some days I want to walk into the closet with my fur-babies and block away the world. I want to be “normal” again, but there is no going back, this is a progressive disease without a cure. I fight the fight when I have the strength, and I deal with the pain, what is the most difficult to deal with is knowing that outsiders (those who don’t have the disease) around me are unable to appreciate what I deal with every day; you look fine, you have no scars or deformities, so you must just be getting lazy. I saw this portion of a recent study, and because it mirrors my feelings and should make me sad, it helps knowing that I am not alone, and that makes me feel pretty good today.

“A 2013 study published in Clinical Rheumatology reported on participants who took part in six focus group discussions on fatigue and RA. Researchers found that rheumatoid arthritis fatigue was unpredictable, overwhelming, and often associated with frustration, fear, and negative emotions.”
There are many people in my life that don’t see it, but I don’t imagine they want to. They just notice that I move slower and wear more practical shoes. They don’t see my morning shuffle or my cabinet full of pills. And though it’s easy to joke about the aging process and how it sucks to get old, I’m only 49, and I’m worried about what is yet to come.

My fur-children get me through each and every day with their unconditional love and understanding.

Always remember, Only God loves you more than your dog.