You’ve probably heard the saying, “We only have today.” To me, those words are more than a mantra. They are a road map for life.
Like many of you, I have arthritis, but it doesn’t “have” me, and I’m determined to take each day as it comes. In fact, my husband Lennie and I both have arthritis, but through trial and error we have found many ways to keep living our lives to the fullest despite some limitations – and we are doing all that we can to encourage others to do the same.
For example, I was recently at a social event and when music started playing a family member who uses a walker said she wanted to dance. I suggested she come “sway with me,” but she said, “Not me, I’m going to dance!” She managed to dance in her own way, and had a wonderful time. I was inspired by her positive attitude.
I realize that having arthritis can be tough. Really tough at times. But to me, it’s sort of like sports. It’s a head, heart and hand game. You will feel better if you keep positive thoughts in your head, you follow your heart and try your best to pursue what you’re passionate about, and you keep your hand in the game by staying active.
It’s also important to be patient with yourself. Sometimes little actions lead the way to better outcomes. For example, there are days when I go to the gym and am very stiff. I don’t feel like being there but I know if I don’t work out I’ll feel worse than if I give it my best shot. So I start off taking it really easy. Soon I’m making more and more progress, and beginning to feel better.
Now, I realize that pain from arthritis can make a person not want to move. But whatever your goals, if you take just one little step, you can usually take one more step. You keep moving. Before you know it, you’ve accomplished more than you thought you would. And that’s something to feel proud of.
Because arthritis symptoms change from day to day and year to year, it’s crucial to remain open minded. To me, arthritis is like an unwelcome house guest. It shows up uninvited, but it’s there to stay. So I can get angry or discouraged, or I can accept it. When I leave the house to go shopping I know this unwelcome guest is going be with me in the car. But it doesn’t have to sit in the front seat. I can do my best to put it in the backseat so it’s not as distracting. And I focus on the fact that I’m still going where I want to go.
It’s also essential to educate yourself about your condition. Find online resources such as the ones on the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance website, read about ways to manage your condition, and come up with a list of questions to ask the doctor at your next visit.
Start today! Find a way to do just one thing that will give you a feeling of accomplishment. And reach out to encourage one other person, even if it’s just a quick phone call, or sending an email to a friend who needs a little extra support. You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. And you’ll be letting that unwelcome houseguest know you are still going to pursue your goals.
Be well…and keep moving,
Osteoarthritis Action Alliance