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Monday, June 10, 2013

Change of plans

     One of the many aspects of dealing with a chronic disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis centers around the need to be able to change plans on a dime.  Being able to be flexible, and I don't mean physically :), is crucial to successfully managing RA.
   It is totally possible to learn how to be flexible and it is a very necessary and helpful tool to acquire when dealing with chronic disease.  Without it, you tend to not only end up filled with stress and tension but you also are potentially loosing some options that might allow you to move forward with your management of RA.  Understanding that Plan A may NOT be the best choice is very critical!
     Case in point for me....prior to agreeing to and eventually having both feet surgically rebuilt (successfully I might add) I dragged my feet (no pun intended) about getting it done as I continued to follow Plan A which was deal with the pain, the lack of mobility instead of having the surgery.  Once I was WILLING to seriously consider Plan B (the surgery) I could then objectively examine the pros and cons to see which course was the best one to take.
      There is nothing wrong and everything to gain to use this approach across the board when making decisions about any of the issues we face with RA.  That goes for choices of treatment, exercise options, social gatherings, chores, etc.  You name it, you can use this approach.  It really is a systematic way to sort through what can be some serious challenges.
     Having dealt with RA for 17+ years now, I can say with certainty (and there is very little certain about RA) that approaching the management of a chronic disease systematically can really help to ease that level of uncertainty we often associate with RA.  That is one way to handle change that makes it a lot less stressful because YOU are taking control and that always feels better than the alternative.
     When you climb that hill of alternatives, it is a very liberating feeling to know that you have a degree of control over what happens to you and what choices you can and will make.   Anytime you are able to calmly, systematically and rationally examine the possibilities before you, you are much more likely to make the best possible decision at that point in time.  
     And that brings me to another really important aspect of this concept.  It is absolutely crucial that as part of this entire assessment process you are willing to revisit decisions you made to see if you need to change your course of action. Circumstances change as I said at the top of this post and with that in mind, something you were certain of a month ago may now need to be completely re-examined to see where you are at now.  What, if anything, has changed?  How might that change your decisions from then to now?  Important questions and all part of the systematic approach to disease management that includes embracing change.
       Finally the one thing all of these ideas have in common is ADAPTABILITY.  We must be able to, as I said, "change on a dime" if we are to successfully manage RA.  Being willing and able to adapt to the ever shifting nature of chronic disease is, arguably, the most important tool you can add to your toolbox!   

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