On February 17, 2016, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is a chronic, progressive disease causing inflammation in the joints, which can result in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles. RA is an autoimmune disease that also affects many bodily functions, including the cardiovascular and respiratory system. It could have been worse, I told myself. “At least I now know what’s been causing the excruciating, relentless, and debilitating pain”. Currently, there is no cure for RA. Aggressive medications can slow the diseases progress and, with regular treatment and lifestyle improvements, the best one can hope for is remission.
For me, this was not an option, I will beat it! As of last year, I’m happy to say, that while I still have the classification of RA, I am in remission. While my body reacted well to the treatment, remission would have been a challenge if I didn’t take more control of my life. I was not going to let this invader disrupt my life and tear me down without putting up a fight. The minute I was diagnosed, I vowed to give this disease the battle of a lifetime. A battle that I now fight each and every day because of my quality of life and the length of my life depends on it. So, what does my RA life look like? Actually, it’s not much different than any person who chooses to live a healthy lifestyle.
Living a healthy lifestyle means a lot of different things to different people. And what works for me may not work for you. The key is to never stop trying to live better, something that takes persistence, patience, and perseverance. You have to want to win the war, and not just hope to win one fight. I personally did a lot of research on RA; reading articles, blogs, any information that I could find, and kept an open dialogue with my doctor. Knowledge of your condition is everything when it comes to intervention, and it took a lot of trial and errors to figure out what worked for me. So here are some basics of “My RA Life”.
Sleep: Sound restful and peaceful sleep is the foundation of living a healthy life, regardless if you’re sick or not. I sleep a minimum of 8 hours per day, allowing my body and mind to recover each night. I also use an essential oil diffuser while I sleep. Essential oils can help reduce stress and relax the body, mind, and soul. I also have an earthing/grounding mat on my bed, which helps to reduce inflammation and has many other health benefits. Seriously, look it up. Have you ever wondered why you feel so amazing when you’re barefoot at the beach? It’s not just because you’re on vacation!
Exercise: The benefits of daily exercise is given. Making excuses to not exercise is how you lose the war. Exercising outdoors and in the woods even takes it up a notch. There’s actually a name for it. Look up Forest Bathing. I have a 1 hour lunch period. In reality, it only takes me 15 minutes to eat, so that leaves me 45 minutes, 5 days a week to walk at lunch. I walk for a minimum of 2 miles. After work, 2 days a week, I do weight training. I also do this 1 day on the weekend for an hour. After dinner, it’s usually a walk for anywhere from 2 to 4 miles, either outside, or at the gym, if the weather is bad. And on the weekends, hiking, here I come.
Food: It’s a simple philosophy, garbage in, garbage out. If you seriously want to feel better, stop eating processed food and lean towards a fresh Mediterranean diet. If you’re a meat eater like me, just cut it back a little at a time. I only eat meat a total of 6 times a week. Servings are 4-6 ounces. I treat myself to red meat once a week, if at all. I currently follow the meatless Monday practice and I intend to reduce my meat consumption even further. I suggest that you see a nutritionist and learn about food combinations for RA, and then mix in a holistic doctor’s point of view. No fast food EVER! It’s not that hard if you just plan ahead. Also, consider what you drink. No soda, sugary drinks, and reduce the caffeine. Yes, to water and fresh lemon juice, please.
Supplements: Getting everything your body needs to fight the war is not always possible with just a healthy diet, so I’ve added the following supplements to my daily regimen. I take folic acid daily to counteract the side effects of my once a week methotrexate treatment. I also take daily the following supplements; turmeric, fiber, hemp oil, fish oil, a probiotic and a multivitamin. I also take twice a day, a small dose of CBD oil, which is thankfully legal in my state. There are so many amazing health benefits to CBD oil for RA patients.
While there are so many more details about My RA Life that I could expand on, like spiritual health, stress relief, and overall mental health, it would require me to write a novel. Hum, let me ponder that thought. Anyways, the main point of this post is this, if you want to get better, if you want to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life, then take a look in the mirror because it’s all on you and nobody else. It’s up to you, and only you, to shift your life, shape your life, and Be_again! You got this…
A.T. 2020 Thru-hike Start Date Countdown Clock: 390 days and it feels so good!