It’s another rainy day; only good thing is it cuts down the heat but with rheumatoid arthritis the rain stirs up the symptoms. Some say it doesn’t cause inflammation – just additional pain. And as we know, with pain comes fatigue and with fatigue comes depression, if you aren’t careful. Over the past few weeks, I have been blessed to have young ones around me, visiting, staying over, playing, reading, laughing, and just enjoying life. Reminds me of a time without RA when life was light-hearted on the most part. Yes, I had family drama like most people do but physical pain wasn’t a part of my life.
Many years ago, I had an episode of ‘illness seeking behavior.’ Having a chronic disease in which much of the impairments early in life are not visible can be challenging and disheartening. People tend to disbelieve what they can’t see and only ‘old people’ get arthritis. “Just try harder,” “you don’t look handicapped to me,” were words I often heard, shifting blame on me for any pain, stiffness, weakness, I might be exhibiting. Anyway, I decided I had AIDS. Yes, this really happened. Didn’t have any real symptoms, I just think subconsciously I thought people would understand a diagnosis of AIDS where a flare of rheumatoid arthritis was meaningless to them. No sympathy or understanding. I used to love to get the flu! Something everyone understood.
Anyway, my doc at the time, told me I had to stop looking for illness and to surround myself with children. I was working at an arthritis center and helping out with an arthritis support group. Unintentionally, I had surrounded myself with arthritis which is fine in and of itself but I wasn’t balancing my life with a lighthearted side. So, I did and it made a difference in my daily outlook on life!
Now, I intentionally look for the joy in as many situations as I can. Some may think I verge on being too silly but it seems to be working. Life is hard, my husband has ALS and I am his primary caretaker. Everyday is a challenge—we can meet it with bitterness and resentment or look for the joy and seek out the humor. Kids are filled with it, tap into the magic of childhood and laugh. Easier to find than you think!