How I have changed


I always talk about how I have changed but I am usually referring to how I have changed emotionally.  I never really want to talk about how I have changed physically.  For most of us, we clearly acknowledge that we have changed physically but we don’t like to talk about it. The truth I have gained nearly fifty pounds since RA came into my life.  I wear shoes that are one and two sizes bigger than I did before RA.  That is because my feet are always swollen and achy.  My hands and fingers are always sore, swollen and achy all the time and I don’t think I ever recall a time that my hands and fingers didn’t hurt.  Obviously, that time existed but it seems like so far into the past.

Sometimes, I will get a sharp pain in my knee or in my hip and I have to stop and gain my composure.  Imagine someone walking up to you and pointing you with a pretty sharp object in your knee or hip. You would be taken aback right away.  I don’t always like anyone to see me when I have those moments so I quickly gain my composure by for example, trying really hard not to limp or let anyone see how much pain I am in.  Then there is the constant joint swelling and stiffness.  It is a part of life for people with arthritic conditions.  We have fears and we hopes like everyone else. For us, however, our fear is that RA wins and that we can’t continue to work to provide for our families or that an RA complication has a serious effect on our families.  Every day is a battle and we continue and endure despite the limitations

I have learned to accept these changes to my body and the limitations that RA has posed but I am not always thrilled with them.  I just keep going despite a lack of a comfort with my body because I realize that the alternative is worse.  RA has such a devastating effect on us physically and it seems that weight gain and constant swelling are nothing compared to RA complications. Despite all the physical changes that RA has brought into my life, I have endured and I am proud of that.

RA Guy has a “Show Us Your Hands” Project where you take a photo of your hand and send it to RA Guy by Friday, December 23.  RA Guy will combine all these photos into a final collage and post on his blog on Christmas Eve.  It will serve as a symbol for the autoimmune community and also as a reminder that we are proud, not ashamed, of arthritic hands. 

So here is to you RA Guy.

While I don’t any visible deformity in my hand, you can see the swelling. It is like a hospital glove blown up. My feet are similarly bloated this morning.

Rheumatoid arthritis hands are a visible sign of the enormous strength of an individual who has experienced so much pain, that their hands have literally been pulled out of shape. I, for one, am proud of my hands. They have endured a lot, and will continue to endure even more. I will never be ashamed of them, no matter what they look like.  From “I’m proud of my Arthritis Hands” by RA Guy.

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