RA Warrior has invited persons to blog about the topic “What do you do to keep the disease from taking over different parts of your life?”
To someone who does not have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, or to those who are newly diagnosed, the whole concept of living with chronic pain and illness might sound depressing. Indeed, there are times when we may feel sad that we have to stay inside on the couch, while everyone else is out living their lives. But time helps us work through our feelings and eventually we develop techniques to help us cope and push through the pain. And we learn to live life with pain, while actually having fun and enjoying ourselves. I have found that distraction is important when living with (J)RA. We have to find healthy and productive ways to distract ourselves from the pain.
I have a few ideas which I’d like to share which have helped me over the years:
As a child this was basically all I could do when I was stuck alone in that hospital bed, while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I lost myself in fairy-tales, travelling to other countries and fantasy worlds. I still love losing myself in a good book when I’m flaring and can’t do much physically.
I loved arts and crafts as a child, and as an adult I still doodle or paint from time to time. It can be very therapeutic to draw or paint. If you don’t know how to draw, remember that it’s never too late to enroll in art class 😉
It doesn’t matter what you sound like. Sing for yourself. Sing in the shower. Sing Backstreet Boys’ songs if that’s what you love. 😉 Enjoy yourself 🙂
Like singing, it doesn’t matter how you look, once you’re having fun. Move whatever you can move and shake whatever you can shake, even if you’re stuck to the bed.
Swimming is my favourite physical activity to do. Even though I’m often in pain when I reach the pool, I always feel refreshed, strong and energized afterwards.
6. Listening to music
I’ve posted about this already, but music helps me a lot. If you’re in pain and lying in bed, keep some music nearby so you can distract yourself and you don’t feel alone. If you’re struggling to do your physical therapy, put on some upbeat music to keep you going.
This might seem like a strange point, but giving love (not just in the romantic sense) and being loved are amazing feelings which can help us through our pains. Knowing we have the support of our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, boyfriends, husbands, friends, teachers and co-workers helps to strengthen our wills to fight this condition. If you’re a parent of a child with JRA, love them as best as you can – this is the time they need you most. In addition, having someone to love, whether it’s a significant other, a child or a pet makes our lives more meaningful and shows us there’s more to life than RA.
When you’re lying in pain, just having someone hug you can be a great comfort. If you don’t have a significant other, then hug your doggy or cat. If you have little ones, hug them. Kids are often a great distraction from pain 🙂 If you’re a parent of a child with JRA, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is hug them while they try to sort out the pain.
9. Going outside and enjoying life
(I’ve shared some thoughts on this topic already, click here to read). When I’m in pain, walking may be difficult, but I still try to go out and do what I can. I look at it like this: I could stay in bed or I could go outside and either way I’d still be in pain. I may as well be in pain while doing something I love right?
I try to do things which make me feel happy, such as travelling or hanging out with my friends or even just watching my favourite movies. Pain is often present, but when I’m happy and laughing and surrounded by people who love me, it’s bearable. Keep busy and don’t allow yourself to dwell on the pain. I know it’s hard, but we have to keep fighting for our happiness.
Feel free to share your ideas also, so we can all learn together. Also, check out RA Warrior’s article which includes links to many more posts on this topic.
Wishing you all the best and sending gentle hugs your way,