I had to learn to live within this new body which was limited in movement and uncomfortable. I had to learn to be myself again and forget what I could no longer be or do. Never losing sight of opportunities to regain function or reduce the discomfort of the disease, I continued to try all the new medications and had several joint replacement surgeries.
An attitude of acceptance combined with perseverance seemed appropriate. With an attitude of acceptance, I realized that I could no longer reach the top shelf, nor could I pick up everything from the floor. My plane of existence was now somewhere in the middle of that and I had to review, refocus, and adapt to that. With an attitude of determination, I made the necessary adjustments.
The adjustments were diverse. Some were simple, such as lowering things from that top shelf making them reachable once again. Some adjustments were more complicated, such as finding a balance between independence lost and dependence. It became as much a learning experience as it had been a battle. Learning to adapt, to find new ways, easier ways, accessible ways. I had to learn to live "with" the arthritis and forget that it had stolen much from me. The person that I was before rheumatoid arthritis affected me became a cherished memory, almost like a lost love or lost pet, always a part of you and yet gone.
There was now a new life I was living and though it was bound by limitations it was not a bad life, just different. There was a need to alter certain goals and dreams and develop new ones. There was a need to revise and change and adapt daily routines and long term plans. I have concluded that there still is much pleasure and happiness to be squeezed out of life. The loss of oneself is really just a rebirth, a chance to refocus, to begin anew and do things differently.
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