When the Unexpected Happens
As many of you know, but some don't, I recently lost my husband. He passed away at the end of September 2010. This many weeks later, I find myself learning how to do this -- how to live with this mega-change in my life. As difficult as it has already been, and I'm quite sure more difficulties lie ahead, I've come to the conclusion, I can do this.
Make no mistake, this is not how I envisioned my 50s -- or even my 60s and 70s, should I get there. But, when I stop to think about it, I didn't envision a lot of things that came my way in life. I certainly didn't envision that I would be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the young age of 19. That was quite a blow too.
Learning to Survive
I think many people, soon after being diagnosed with arthritis, wonder how they are going to do it. Their internal dialogue goes something like this: How can I live with arthritis? How can I live with the pain, the physical limitations, the new reality?
I find myself drawing parallels between the loss of my husband now and the loss of myself back then. As a matter of fact, I wrote a personal story, perhaps 16 or so years ago, and called it Surviving the Loss of Oneself.
Manage the Disease
First and foremost, you need to do all you can to manage the physical aspects of the disease. Then, the emotional and mental aspects.
- Ways to Manage Your Pain
- 8 Best Things to Do for Arthritis
- 10 Ways to Improve Your Life With Arthritis
Get Ready for the Reality
Once you feel you have done all you can do to bring the disease under control and to accept that you have a disease -- get ready for the reality. Living with arthritis and managing arthritis will come with many ups and downs. At times, your symptoms will flare. Your treatment will seem like it's not working. Your fatigue level will fluctuate. You may become moody, angry, or frustrated at how arthritis affects your quality of life.
The uncertainty that comes with having arthritis may affect your ability to cope at times. But there is one thing you must continually strive for -- an essential component of coping -- and that is PATIENCE. If you can remain patient through the tough times and realize that the course of arthritis varies, you will be taking a positive approach.
Expect the unexpected. Just when you think it's impossible to live with arthritis, things will improve. Similarly, when you settle into thinking that your disease is well-controlled, things may take a turn for the worse.
There are famous quotes that point out the importance of patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Patience and fortitude conquer all things." Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy said, "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time."
Patience Is Essential
While you may see the wisdom in battling arthritis with patience, you may think it's easier said than done. Here are 5 steps to help you.
- Realize there will be ups and downs with arthritis.
- Strike a balance with arthritis.
- Try not to become overwhelmed.
- Conquer depression.
- Remember these arthritis do's and don'ts.
The Bottom Line
While it's important to focus on the present, never lose sight of the reality of arthritis -- that things will likely change. To get through the ups and downs, patience is essential.