The Art of Living with Rheumatoid Disease

The Art of Living with Rheumatoid Disease

by Dana Symons

hockeyIt's that time of year again. Yes, it's fall, but that's not the season I'm talking about. I'm talking about Hockey Season! Hockey is the only sport my husband and I typically follow, which is probably good because it is a LONG season. I particularly enjoy watching NHL games (or the Olympic Games, as we got to see this past winter!).  I like to watch how skillfully they handle the puck, and how fast they move across the ice -- sometimes I swear we're watching in fast-forward! It amazes me when I think about it. Yet, at the same time, they make it look so easy. I almost start to believe: I could do that. They spend so much time practicing and perfecting the art of their sport that they make it look almost effortless. This is the same reason I can get mad at my hockey team when a player misses the goal, when the goalie lets a puck in the net, when someone misses a pass: “how could you mess up like that?!” I say in outrage. They make it look so easy most of the time, that I forget that the game is hard. Just ask my husband. He recently started playing hockey, and he’ll be the first to tell you how difficult it is to do what those guys do. Which got me thinking…

Isn’t that kind of what it’s like to live life with a chronic illness like rheumatoid disease? We learn to adapt to our new life with its limitations, we work the most out of what we’re given, and we put a smile on our face. In short: we make this look easy. And, it’s easy for those watching us to forget that it’s not: that many of the things that were easy before RD take great effort to accomplish today. I think the lesson here is two-fold. For the friends and family of people with rheumatoid disease (PRD), it’s important to remember that we practice being positive and doing the best we can each day -- but just because we do something, doesn’t mean it was easy for us. We need support, encouragement and recognition for the hard things we do accomplish, and we need understanding when there are things that we simply cannot do. For PRD, we know well that people can’t always tell by looking at us what challenges we face, and how frustrating that can be. But, let’s try to give some grace, find opportunities to educate others about this disease and be honest about how it affects your daily life. Keep fighting and make the most of what you’re given each day!

"The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well." --The Olympic Creed, inspired by a sermon from Ethelbert Talbot

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