I GET IT! I really do. But the reality of RA is that because we live with a disease that flares with NO RHYME OR REASON or rationale our best intentions can be dashed in a moment. A moment you say? Yes.
People with RA can literally be getting ready to head to the gym, pool, etc. with every intention of exercising and when they get up to move their _____ (fill in the blank with any joint) they experience pain, swelling and limited mobility. It happens to me over and over and over. I swim. I prefer early morning for a variety of reasons. My routine is to get my gear ready to go the night before so in the morning I just throw my bathing suit and warm ups on and head out the door. Far too many times lately this is simply not happening. I get up and this hip or that shoulder or this ankle or that wrist or all 4 are saying "nope, not today Nan". It is so very discouraging. I want, no need, so badly to exercise. It is what gives me energy, a clear head, better sleep, weight control, etc. Without it I am none of the above! I try to tell myself it is OK I will do it tomorrow but that is getting old and so am I! I need to find a way to get through this. More medication is not the answer...tried that...it just gives me more problems with its various side effects. I have been on dozens of them at this point and although I am under moderate control....
....the reality of RA is that unless you are in remission you WILL FLARE! It is that simple. I have said here repeatedly that the single worst aspect of RA is its chaotic nature. Never knowing when the pain, swelling and overall discomfort will strike without any apparent reason. It is that complete lack of control and being at the absolute mercy of this master, RA, that makes living with this disease so challenging on a daily basis. Living with this disease for over 18 years now you would think I would be able to adjust to this and move on....well not true. I think it is simply in our nature to try to establish control over our lives and so when you are continually hitting a brick wall when it comes to RA management it makes one weary, frustrated, depressed and discouraged. I have to try to find a way to get through this and I will but it sure is a challenge!
So now that I have had my rant....what exactly can we do? Well, here are a few thoughts I have. First of all if we cannot work out on a given day or week even, we pledge to not feel guilty about it. That is easier said than done.
Everywhere you turn these days from TV to ads to social media we are confronted with the attitude that if you don't exercise you are 1) lazy 2) overweight 3) weak minded 4) will never be healthy and on and on. Although these are meant to motivate us I suppose, they just serve to make us feel even worse than we already do. That we have no chance of even being OK let alone perfect!
I know this is true because in the summer when I am already in light weight clothes I am much more likely to go for a simple walk than in the dead of winter here in Vermont where I have layers of clothes, boots, etc. to put on before venturing out. So knowing this is half the battle I hope and even putting out your clothes or bathing suit so they are ready to be put on helps.
This is a great mantra to repeat to ourselves this year and I encourage you to follow it. It is yet another device to put into our RA Management Toolbox!