Morning everyone! Who’s ready for Day 3 of #RABlogWeek? I’m gonna pretend you all just cheered and shouted yes. Today’s topic is “Explain your RA.” I’ve written before about what it is like to be chronically ill (you can read that post here), but I’m going to try to go deeper today. I’m going to tell you things I’ve only told my closest friends.
RA is a thief. Plain and simple. It steals from you every chance it can get. I was diagnosed when I was just 10 years old. I’m almost 40 now. That’s nearly 30 years fighting this disease. It has stolen so much from me during those years.
I was a child athlete. And I had big dreams. I was going take my love of horses and turn it into a career showing. I was going to be a world champion or an Olympian. And then I was going to retire and train horses until I was old and gray. I won’t ever reach those dreams thanks to RA. I had to retire from showing horses at 25. To this day it still hurts my heart to think about the dream RA stole from me. I have several friends that show and train and have the life I’d dreamed of having. I don’t wish them ill, but I’m angry that I can’t be showing and training alongside them. I feel cheated. I am only just now able to go watch them ride or hang out with them at a show without feeling like my heart is breaking. I can still only handle a few hours before the overwhelming heartache starts to flood back in.
RA can also steal your friendships. I’m an introvert so I’ve never been the life of the party kind of girl. But I used to see my friends regularly for movies or dinner or shopping or just hanging out. I’ve hand to cancel plans so may times due to sudden RA flares or vanishing energy reserves…I can’t remember the last time someone called me to see if I wanted to catch a movie. I know I need to reach out to them more often. But I know they have to be sick of my illness and the limits it puts on me. I know I am. I used to be someone they could count on. Someone that was always up to go on a trail ride or on a shopping trip. I’m not anymore. I can only be counted on to be sick and tired and slow and grumpy. It is lonely and isolating and depressing. But it is a hole that makes you feel trapped. I struggle to try and fix it but often feel like it is a lost cause.
RA can steal your self-worth. I’ve always been a do it myself kind of person. I was raised to be independent. I’m a fifth generation Texan. We’re tough folks. But RA is slowly stealing that from me. It makes my strong body weaker and weaker each year. And each year I have to ask for help more often. And rely on others to do things that I once could do with ease. It makes me feel broken and worthless.
Having RA chip away at your life makes you constantly redefine what is normal in your world. When you’re not sick, I imagine your life is built on a solid foundation. A foundation of things that are certain in your life – your skills, your dreams, your friendships/relationships. With RA you’re constantly trying to build a life on a foundation of ever shifting sands. You’ll get things built up just right and then something will happen. Meds will stop working, RA will ramp up and get out of control. Everything will tumble and you’ll have to rebuild again. Only this time, you’re missing some pieces. And every time you rebuild you’re missing more.
To read all of the #RABlogWeek blogs, go here. Click on the links under each topic to read that day’s blogs.