I think one of the things that has helped me the most in healing this last year is that I have finally stopped worrying about everything. When I was first diagnosed in 2004, my biggest fears were deformed joints and not being able to get out of bed by myself. Although those two fears stayed with me for many years, I also added on the fear of the side effects of medications, fear the pain would never end, fear of eating because the food I put into my body might be causing more inflammation, and fear that if I take medications they may not work long term. (There were more, but these were the main ones.)
Last year at this time I was in deep turmoil trying to decide what path to take next with my rheumatoid arthritis which was also controlling the rest of my life. I talked with close friends, I visited my naturopath, I meditated, and finally I came to the conclusion that I was spending so much time trying to be healthy that I was adding a lot of stress to my life. Stress is very harmful to our joints. When I decided to give medications a chance again, I remember this huge burden being lifted from my body.
When I picked up my first prescription of Enbrel, my sister Stacey was visiting. I started crying when we left the pharmacy. She thought it was because I was scared of the medication. It wasn't that. I knew that my life was about to change. It was about to change because I had a strong sense that the medication was going to help. This sense came from many places. Mostly, it came from me finally accepting my situation. It was accepting that the medications may have a place in my life to help me and it also came from my decision to stop worrying about everything. I remember when the decision to take medications was complete in my mind I also had decided on following the paleo diet which allowed me a lot more freedom in my food choices than I was doing previously, it completely fit into my food politics, and I decided at that moment that I would allow myself to "cheat" on foods when it felt right for me as long as it remained gluten free. (I find this funny now because since making the choice to give myself a break with food, I have actually eaten better than ever before. Feeling like I can't eat certain foods makes them so much more desirable.) I also stopped worrying about deformities and decided to look at them as trophies of the strength I have each day to deal with whatever life throws at me. I don't worry so much about the side effects of medications because I know that I am treating my body the best I can with good food choices and a relaxed mindset.
I was right when I picked up my Enbrel prescription. My life has changed this last year. I am active. I am strong. I am happy. I know Enbrel plays a large part in this change but I also think a lot of the change comes from not being so hard on myself to save myself. This last year I have let a lot go in my life that wasn't serving me any longer. I have allowed myself to share meals with friends and family without freaking out inside. I have focused on the beauty of who I am rather than what may become of me. I have really spent time this year focusing on the moment by taking the time to laugh, to hug, and to just be. It has made a huge difference not only in my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms but in my overall life.
This journey of mine with rheumatoid arthritis has definitely had some ups and downs and I have no delusion that path will continue, but in the meantime, I just want to enjoy each and every day I have of feeling good. I appreciate my naturopath, all my blogger friends, personal friends,and family that helped guide me to the decisions I made last summer because I am really happy with where I am now.