Posted in rheumatoid arthritis

Finding the Strength to be Tough


I am no stranger to toughness and nor am I a stranger to difficulties. I have always been a tough person and I have always forced myself to be tough through the worst of storms. For a long time in my life, I knew that getting through a crisis meant getting up when you fall down, and it meant getting up right away. With RA, I don’t always have the strength to get up right away. In the beginning, I did. Then my health got worse, and it was harder to get up right away. These days, I need time to feel sorry for myself because I eventually do get up, not right away, but I do.

The Arthritis Foundation says that 1.3 million Americans live with RA and 70% of those are women. Many women who stricken are as young as 20, and many are mothers. I don’t really know my heritage line when it comes to RA, but my mother tells me that her father had rheumatoid arthritis. I have never watched anyone struggle with a chronic pain condition so for me, my life is like a movie playing in slow motion.

If anything scares me the most, it is the fact that my children watch me struggle with this disease. It is for them I get up when I fall. Sometimes I worry about the complications of living with this disease and it scares to think that my kids could lose me because of RA. That is another reason I fight. My kids are entitled to a mother, healthy or not, who will be around for a long time.

I was very active before RA, and now I am lucky to just to be able to run after my kids. I keep praying for remission, for strength and for guidance. Mostly, I pray for the courage to find the strength to be tough. It is not always easy, but so many people in my life tell me that I do it in seemingly easy manner. I have to remind them that they do not know what it takes to make it look so easy.

My husband thinks that my accepting this disease means I have given up. See, part of having this disease means that you are fighting a battle every single day and accepting only means that you’ve stopped grieving for your misfortune. It also takes a lot of energy and emotional strength to fight.

For anyone who sees a family member struggling with a chronic pain condition, the only advice I can offer is to learn more about the disease. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the easier living with this disease is. Emotions play a big part because watching someone struggle takes a lot of empathy, and it does not come natural for everyone. In my life, the two people who try to get what I am going through are my sisters. My husband and my mom – they don’t quite understand but I have faith that they eventually will.

My fears about this disease sometimes cripple me emotionally. Crying is hard for me these days. I am too numb to cry and sometimes, I am too numb to care. When you grieve for so long, you eventually stop grieving. I hope that I have not become a cruel person, but I used to turn on the waterworks on over the silliest things, and now, I have very little sympathy for the world. I have learned that that is what it takes to find the strength to be tough. I don’t have time to sweat the small stuff.

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9 thoughts on “Finding the Strength to be Tough

  1. "See, part of having this disease means that you are fighting a battle every single day and accepting only means that you’ve stopped grieving for your misfortune. It also takes a lot of energy and emotional strength to fight."THIS is a very wise statement, Lana. In making it, it's clear that you've cleared an obstactle that was holding you back. Rheuma and fibro aren't a death sentence. They're problems, to be sure, but the good, kind, loving person you were before you got these diseases is still the person you are today. And while, as a mother, naturally you're concerned about your kids having a "normal" Mom, consider the good lessons they're learning by having a Mom they need to help now and then. Imagine the compassion they're learning now, while they're very young, and the understanding about others who might not be just like they are. These are good things. You're a very good example of strength and courage, all mixed up with love.Are you becoming "cruel" because you don't cry over everything anymore? Nooo. You're learning to prioritize your strength and save up your grief for the things that are important. This is also a great example for your kids. They'll be good, strong, kind and compassionate adults one day.I think you're doing just great. And I'm sending lots of courage and hugs through the ether in your direction. Please remember to take care of you, okay?-Wren

  2. dear lana….wats most important for you is to try to keep urself happy….any kind of stress, whether physical or mental, will only act as an impediment….trust me! i know its really difficult to figure out reasons to smile when u r weighed down by physical pain….but we hav to constantly look for positivity….i know how much it hurts when people dont understand wat we r going through….or at times try to trivialize it….but try not being bothered by others' reactions (its difficult, but its the only way out)….right now all u shud care about is urself dear!

  3. Lana, you are very tough. It's not always about getting up just as soon as you're down, sometimes you need to think things over a bit before getting back up. But we do always get back up and that is what's important. I have never had a close friend or relative with chronic pain either, so I understand what you are saying exactly. I hear a lot of people talking about remission from RA, I am not convinced it exists. I hate the numbness, sometimes I am so numb that I forget to be happy, I'm just going through the motions of life. I really hate that RA takes such a vital part of our life away from us, that we have to emotionally shut ourselves off sometimes just to survive.

  4. I have days when I accept my arthritis, carry on in spite of it, other days when I feel too awful and have to give in (like today). But mostly I am also tough and relate entirely to what you say. I also find in hard to be as sympathetic to other's problems at times – not a good thing as it creates barriers I think. I wish you well, you are doing so well by the sounds of it and are probably a lot more positive than many who don't have the disease which will hold you in good stead for the long term

  5. Hi I found your blog from Jo's blog and just wanted to say how sorry I am for your pain with RA. I was lucky my arthritis with RA symptoms turned out to be lyme disease I so remeber the curled hands and weakness in doing simple cooking jobs or the pain in my fingers blowing my nose. Now after long term antibiotics following ILADS guidelines I am 100% with no pain it is amazing. I realise not everyone with arthriotis or RA will have lyme disease but most will never be properly assessed for it with the current controversy over blood tests and treatment.However there is research that shows that antibiotics long term can help people with RA have a look at http://www.roadback.orgGood luck in finding something that helps your symptoms.

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