Rheumatoid Arthritis
Chronic Living

Living Life With a Chronic Illness

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Life With RA

How do you “craft the best life” when you’re living with a chronic illness?

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 16. However, the symptoms began appearing a couple of years before my diagnosis. I was repeatedly treated for sprains because x-rays would show that my wrists and ankles weren’t broken.

When I reached my twenties, I was experiencing pain in most of my joints, and oh, the fatigue! Though I was on numerous medications, they did very little. I know I wasn’t the best housekeeper, and surely not the best wife or mom, but I got up and faced what each day had for me.

Live Life to the Fullest

For many years I was a stay-at-home, homeschool mom to my only son, whom we homeschooled from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult to maintain a consistent teaching schedule because of the fatigue it would cause. I would be spent before we got started. But by God’s grace, I persevered, and he even graduated a year early. He is currently attending college approximately two-and-a-half hours away.

Two years ago I went back to school and got my Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. It was more of a challenge than I could have ever imagined. I was constantly fighting tiredness  and fatigue while trying to study, read, and take tests, but I didn’t let it win. I was determined to walk across that stage.

Currently, I’m working full-time, starting a blog, and trying to manage it all while being so tired all the time. It’s hard to work, workout, cook meals, clean, run errands, and manage all the other things which pertain to running a household.

If you are also struggling with a chronic disease that wants to run your life, here are some tips I want to share that help me manage life the best way I know how

How to Manage With RA
Rest

Make sure to get as much rest as possible. Go to bed early enough to get enough rest to get you through the next day.

Exercise 

I do find that exercise makes me feel more energized. Schedule time in your day several days a week to workout. Only do what you are able to do. I currently go to Zumba classes four times a week. I started off with the “Gold” (beginners) class and now have moved on to the more difficult class. If I’m having a bad week, I can always go to the easier class.

Have routines

Routines keep things flowing when you’re not at your best. If you have a routine, it’s almost like being on autopilot. An evening routine prepares you for the next day and a morning routine gets you ready to face the day ahead.

Meal Prep

Find recipes you can prepare ahead of time and either keep in the fridge or freezer. I meal prep my work breakfasts and lunches and our family’s dinners one day a week. I either plan easy meals or  use my meal prep subscription service called 5 Dinners 1 Hour to plan my meals.

Relax

Finding time to relax at the end of the day allows you time to unwind. Read a book, put a puzzle together, write that book, work on a craft, or watch your favorite TV show. Just decompress. Your body will thank you later.

Know when you’ve had enough

With chronic illness, it’s easy to overdo it; especially with high energy activities like cleaning, shopping, and yard work. Know what your limitations are and stay within those limits.

Take your medication(s) as directed

This will lessen the symptoms of your illness.

Seek your physician’s advice if you’re struggling

If you’re having some issues out of the ordinary or having reactions to your medications, seek the advice of your doctor to determine the next steps and explore alternatives that will help you.

Be thankful

Being thankful for how well you are in spite of your illness takes the focus off of how bad you feel. Appreciate the small things. Keep a gratitude journal or write the things you’re thankful for in a conspicuous place where you can see them during times of discouragement.

Don’t Compare Your Abilities to the Abilities of Others

Most of all, the best thing to remember when you have a chronic illness is to not compare yourself to others. If you compare your abilities (or lack thereof) to those without illnesses, you will become discouraged and feel like you’re coming up short in some way. Find positive ways to deal with any limitations you have and don’t put yourself down if you’re not able to do something that most others are able to.

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