How My Raging Autoimmune Disease Positively Changed My Life

As you probably know, I have rheumatoid arthritis. When I was diagnosed, I had 58 affected joints, and I’ve never gone below 52. What you may not know is that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and can go beyond joints to organs. Despite all of the bad things that have come from this – and I’d be lying if I said that everything was fine – it has, in some ways, changed my life for the better.

How My Raging autoimmune Disease Positively Changed My Life

It puts everything in perspective – Woke up late and missed something? That’s annoying, but it’s hard to be stressed about that when my immune system is attacking me. Basically, there is absolutely no point in stressing over the little things because they really are little things in the mess that is my life.

I’m thankful for so much more – Because of the pain I live in and the emotional pain that goes with all of that, I’m thankful for so many more things than I used to be. The good days (or even moments) are much more special than they were before. Even if a day is completely ordinary, if I feel okay, it’s a great day. When I’m able to do fun things, I’m so happy about it. Any time I get to be an ordinary millennial, I am grateful.

I stopped be so controlling over my life plans – I’m the type of person who had a five-year plan, a ten-year plan, and more. But my arthritis makes my life so much more unpredictable. I can’t guarantee how I’ll feel tomorrow, let alone next week, next year, or next decade. I’ve become much more of a go-with-the-flow person than I ever was, and that’s actually a good thing. Yes, I have goals, but I have fewer ones and they’re more generalized, too. I’m not going to put as much pressure on myself to accomplish them, too, because there’s no way to guarantee that I’ll be well enough to complete them. As long as I try when I can, I’m okay with it.

I cut myself more slack – Again, my arthritis is unpredictable. So if it causes me to miss something, I don’t blame myself. I know my body and I know its limits, so if I need to miss something, it’s not the end of the world. I also understand that I am not like every other person in their mid-twenties, and I need to make sure that I don’t compare myself to them because it’s not an accurate comparison. (But I also understand that it’s okay to be frustrated or angry with the fact that I’m not like other twenty-five-year-olds).

I stopped caring what people think of me – I’ve lost count of how many times a stranger has given me a severe look for parking in the handicapped spots or how many times people stared at me for the KT tape or because I stayed seating when other people stood for something. When I was in middle and high school, people used to say (sometimes serious, sometimes joking) that I was faking my pain. After experiencing this for 15 years, I can honestly, genuinely say that I don’t care what you think about me. And that is definitely not a bad thing.

Please consider donating to my Walk To Cure Arthritis team! Any little bit helps me reach my goal of $2,000.

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  • Reply Maureen

    I drive my parents around and to different things. I usually will drop off my father at the door of a store and then go park in a non -handicap parking space. (there are a few reasons why I am writing this). My father is 88 and has had a heart attack, stroke and now also has spinal stenosis. On this particular date I could not find any other place to park but the handicap space. I did park there (I have a placard because of my parents). A woman saw me get out of the car and proceeded to yell at me about parking in a space I had no right to and that she would call the police because I was probably using the placard illegally. I then lifted the leg of one pant and she could then see that I wear a compression garment on that leg.
    I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and DVT. The woman then drove on to find a parking space of her own. As it turned out my father walked back to the parking space with me when we were finished at the store. He uses a walker or a cane –depending upon the day.
    I understand when people tell you that they think that you do not really have anything wrong as it is a health issue that can not be seen so much on the outside. The pain of fibromyalgia and now tendonitis is horrible at times. I have had this issue for over 20 years. I never heard of fibromyalgia until the doctors (yes multiple) stated this was the diagnosis. Because it can come and go in flares and because new syptoms appear I never know what a day is going to be like.

    July 21, 2016 at 9:39 am
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