Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's the Simple Things!

My masked bandit waiting to be free...

Ra robbed me! One day, over twelve years ago, the life I knew was stolen away and never to return. It has taken me this full twelve years to fully cope (and I am not so sure that we completely come to terms with this disease as it is forever changing) and to realize that it is the simple things in life that really, truly do count.

These past three years, the economy has taken a drastic turn of events for the worse. I believe that many people have been thrown into the turbulent waters that people with ra have been living with on a day to day basis: the inability to provide for your family, the worry of where your next meal will come from, the horror of realizing that you have no work or may loose your job at any given moment, the fear that it all will be gone forever! For those of us living with ra (or any debilitating disease for that matter), we live with these fears every single day. They are the monsters lurking in our lives that at any given moment can overtake our once normal lives and destroy the lives we knew.

At first when I was diagnosed, I fought. I truly believed that if I put on my "tough" face it would all be OK. I was determined to remain who I had become and keep all the things that I had worked so hard to obtain. The security of employment, the security of being a Mom that was the super hero to her children, the security of marriage, and the security of good health. I toughed it out for two years and finally realized that I had to change. I had to give up the things I thought defined me. I had to relinquish the full time, good paying job. I had to move from the area I had grown to love so that our family could survive. I had to give up friends that just didn't understand. I lost the love for writing, knitting, walking, swimming and junking (you man's junk is another man's treasure). I was forced to realize that I was no longer able.

Slowly...ever so slowly I adapted. Looking back now I believe I was living in a cocoon until I had sharpened my survival skills in this new ra world of mine. But from the cocoon I emerged a very capable human.

It took me a full twelve years to redefine my "able". And from the ashes of my former pre-ra self, I believe, I have grown. I now realize what is important to me...the simple things in life. I had heard for years and years, how when one is dieing you never hear them say, "Gee, I wish I had worked more." It took me a good eight years to not say that anymore! Eight years! My success in life was so tied to my career that when that was ripped out, shredded up and tossed aside from my ra, I lost the person I had identified with for 25 years. Slowly (and I do mean slowly) I began to identify again what was important to me as a person, to us as a family, and what friendship truly means. It all changed.

For me, it is the simple things in life that keep me going. The joy of seeing (and not just with my eyes but in photos as well) the beauty that surrounds us. I find it everywhere. Before I had to walk quickly by it to get to my job, to get to a child's event, to get to the store, etc. Now that I don't move so fast, I have more time to notice things. The simple things are everywhere. I find them in nature, I find them in people and more importantly, I have found them in myself.

Is it simple to get to this realization. No. But, do have faith in yourself and above not lose hope.  You too will find the capable within.

The ABC's of RA

It's never easy and that is for sure! Having RA (rheumatoid arthritis) for over twelve years I have learned that indeed, it is never simple. Doing almost anything with ra can be a huge challenge and for me it has been.

Thus...the reason I am now writing a blog. I figured that if I am having so much difficulty with this disease then surely others are also struggling. I don't profess to have the answers....heck millions of research dollars later and the medical community has yet to find a cure. I am just going to try and make it simpler.  Simple ways to talk about ra, simple ways to share the good and bad of ra, simple ways to maybe get things done, simple ways to try and save money while just trying to live and most importantly...

Simple ways to deal with this disease.  I like to call it my KISS approach. Keeping It Simply Simple. I know! I know! That's not the real meaning of that word but I like my meaning alot better :-)

I would love your comments! Your own ideas of how you have coped and how you have made anything simple while living with ra.

This will be a journey and one I am hoping we can share together.