Voices: Are You Grateful for Your Arthritis?
“It Has Made My Life More Purposeful”
Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for over 20 years has afforded me some interesting – and yes, even positive – elements that I am indeed thankful for. One of those is living in the moment. RA is a chaotic and unpredictable disease, often with flares striking with no notice and bringing my life to a grinding halt. Because of that, each morning that I wake up and feel relatively good, I am thankful. I take full advantage of every moment that I can enjoy the world around me. The phrase “living in the moment” has real significance for anyone who has to deal with a chronic disease. Before RA, I was not always good at stepping back and relishing each moment of the day. Now, I do, and it has made my life more joyful and purposeful, and for that I am grateful for my arthritis.
“Plant Seeds of Goodness”
Anyone who has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis knows it’s a constant battle to stay positive. There are moments when I feel like screaming, “Why did this happen to me?” But this disease doesn’t discriminate, and there is a world of people just like me, asking the same questions. Knowing you can encourage others when they are down is powerful, but most important, it’s positive, which is good for your soul and for the universe. Plant seeds of goodness and positive energy, and you will reap the bounty of happiness. There are things I have learned to do over the years to stay positive. I put notes of inspiration everywhere in my home. I have always been spiritual, so prayer helps uplift my mind, body and soul. I do things I love with my grandkids. I get plenty of rest, and I surround myself with positive people. Staying positive is a huge key to leading a successful life with this disease.
“I Have Found a Great Community”
I won’t say that I’m grateful for my laundry list of health problems, but I have found a great community of activists because of my arthritis; the many advocates I know help me take better care of myself and my followers. It’s also led me to writing and speaking professionally, giving me a career in helping others. I’ve had amazing experiences, from educating politicians to becoming a published author to traveling across America helping other patients. My life would have had a very different trajectory without my health issues. Living with arthritis and being an advocate has brought some of the most caring, compassionate and hilarious people into my life. Research shows that we handle illness better with a support system, too, which makes great companions a necessity.