While we all know the multiple things that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) takes from us and the bad things it gives us—the expected pain and the joints that don’t work, the never-ending doctor appointments regarding the disease, and the other unexpected things that crop up such as our skin problems, eye problems, and heart and lung problems—I have also been gifted with some things. That’s right, in developing RA I have been given other gifts that I might not have gotten— life experiences and ways to handle them.
I have been gifted with a deep well of gratitude. I am grateful that this disease has slowed me down so that I am now more intensely aware of my life and its meaning. I now take the time to smell the roses. To enjoy the touch of my grandchild’s hand in mine. The unexpected phone call from a friend. The beauty of a sunny day. I enjoy the little things that would sometimes get overlooked in an otherwise rushed life. When pain slows me down from a “normal” walk to a shuffle I take the time now to notice more of my surroundings and the people around me. The sheer beauty of nature. The interactions of other people with each other.
I have been gifted with more thoughtfulness. I have become more considerate of others and their feelings and what they are going through in their own lives. I have become more thoughtful in expressing my emotions. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, I now have the ability to become more pensive in almost all areas of my life.
I have been gifted with more patience. This might be one of the best gifts I have been given. Patience to withstand the never-ending doctor appointments with the long, uncomfortable wait times. The calls to the pharmacy and insurance companies and being placed on hold. Patience for myself when I can’t seem to get the things done that I wish to do for the day. Patience to know I need to be gentler with myself and to take it easy on those harder days.
I have been gifted more compassion. I now have even more empathy for others who struggle with disease and disabilities in life. I have much more sympathy for others in their day-to-day struggles and a deep desire to help in any way I can. I am able to think outside of myself and show more concern for another person’s welfare.
While this is not a disease for the faint of heart, I find if I can look toward the good things I feel better about myself and this disease. What have you been gifted with?
This article was written by myRAteam member Carol as part of the Member Spotlight series. Carol spent more than 25 years involved in fire service and ended her career as a 911 director. She now enjoys spending time with her fiance.
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