Wednesday, June 30, 2010

RA (and my daughter) Always Teaching Me New Things

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. ~Babatunde Olatunji

It has taken me six years but I think I have finally learned a few very beneficial lessons for me regarding rheumatoid arthritis.

1. Rather than always looking for a way out of this disease, I have come to realize in the last month that what works for me right now is to eat healthy the majority of the time and not feel guilty when I don't, take my supplements and meds as prescribed and most importantly, RELAX about this disease. I put a lot of pressure on myself to always be on the lookout for new ideas on how to get myself out of this disease. I have finally come to the point that I am okay relaxing and letting things be. (This may be a temporary, but I hope it lasts a while.) When I started feeling good a little over a month ago, it was when I stopped worrying about everything and felt a sense of peace with where I am.

2. After a month long break (mostly) from RA symptoms, I started having some downhill days again. They aren't as bad as a few months ago and are very unpredictable (changing throughout the day) but they have slowed me down a little. My wise daughter Sophia said, "Well, at least you had a whole month." She said this sentence as if I should be proud of myself! This made me think about my actions during my "whole month". Rather than focusing on when the next bad day would come or feeling depressed that the streak might end, I focused on each and every day that was good and felt appreciation for little things like walking the dog, reaching a set of bowls, or the extra smiles I was able to give. I appreciated my good days 100% as they were happening and didn't worry about tomorrow. As some rough days sneak back into my days, I am realizing that I can use the day as a day to pamper myself with TV shows I enjoy, long naps, reading, cuddling, take out food, laying in the sun, etc. In the past I might have felt guilty or frustrated with my body for this kind of leisure time but now as I plan ahead for these days, I almost feel excited. It's like planning for a mini vacation. On Tuesday I asked a friend who usually picks my kids up for homeschool group (I meet them after work) to also bring the kids home. I left work and came straight home and took a long nap. Although I am sure I was missed (smile), everyone seemed fine with me taking the time off and I was able to give so much more of myself to my family that night. (Thanks Dee!)

This new way of thinking as taken a lot of pressure off of me and in reality made my symptoms relax also. I have always said that Sophia is the one in our family that helps us "live in the moment". I have spent too much of my RA life worrying that I have lost my life from before or worrying about what will happen in the future. This last month and a half I have spent just enjoying my good days as they are happening and being good to myself on the rough days. I am proud of myself and proud that Sophia brings out that feeling inside me. The present truly is a gift that needs to be treasured. It is a lesson that is long overdue for me, but like everything in life, comes when it is ready.


  1. Wow, thanks for sharing this wise lesson Cathy (and Sophie). I'm so glad you had that month too (here's to many more). This is how I've had to reflect back on my Italian vacation too. At least I had those 8 days, no matter how I feel now. The tricky part is incorporating how I viewed life and my body into life back here in New York now that my disease is very much present again.

    You daughter sounds just like you...special and wise. If you're living with pain day in and day out, I think it's so important to incorporate this "living in the moment" attitude in whatever capacity you can. Thanks again for this reminder :)

  2. Well I hope that the relaxed feelings are PERMANENT Cathy. It makes life easier when we feel somewhat normal. And Sophia is right – the positive is always there. Our kids, regardless of chronic illness in our lives, give us a reason to feel positive and it is wonderful and fortunate that have them. My ten year old, like Sophia, is wise beyond his years and it helps me on the days when I feel so darn right awful.

  3. This is something I struggle with all the time: not to be mired down with the complications of RA and how hard my life is. In all honesty, I know it has made me a stronger and better person in ways. There's nothing I can do about the damage that is done right now, so why get stuck in that? When we feel good, we should just allow ourselves to feel good. Thanks for the reminder, Cathy :)