I dread going to my rheumatologist for my check-ups.

Right now, I see her once every three months. About a week before my appointment, I begin to feel apprehensive… The same feeling when you were called to the principal’s office in school. The “oh no, I’m not gonna like this” feeling.

Why do I get this way?

Its simple… The last three times I’ve been there, I came home with bad news. 🙁

Six months ago, I had to get a steroid shot in a thumb joint, almost passed out, and couldn’t use the thumb on my right hand for 7-10 days… And I’m right-handed.

Three months ago, I went to my check-up about a week after I saw the eye doctor, who informed me that my eyes were severely dry & I had lost a certain range of vision as a result. At the rheumy, I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my hips, she added another medication, and I was put on a drastic exercise restriction (no walking at the store, no bending, limited housework, etc) and rotating hot & cold wraps. I obeyed and was a good little RA patient for 10 weeks… Until I felt better and was bored laying around the house and overdid it with housework. Ugh! I was then back at square one with the tendinitis.

Then, last week, was my most recent check-up. The doctor explained to me that the tendinitis isn’t going away as it is part of my progression of the disease, she added an oral NSAID, signed the paperwork for my first handicap parking placard, forbade me from vacuuming and most other housework, but did allow me to start water therapy up again (thankfully).

Leaving her office last week, I felt beat down… exhausted from dealing with RA… and I was ready for my pity party. I “partied” a little and even took off a day or two from phonecalls, email, and social media. But, I knew I couldn’t stay in pity party land forever… So it was time to work towards coping with this recent set of bad news and move forward… But how?

It wasn’t easy. I started with prayer, which seemed like the best starting place. 🙂 When my husband came home and we were talking about what the doctor said, I started crying. He hugged me and held me as long as I needed. (I love this man – a true blessing from God!) Then, when I decided to go back on Facebook, someone posted this image with a caption that really seemed to help me. image

It says, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the ONLY choice you have.” (Thank you for posting this image Pure Purpose!)

This is the quote that led me to peace over this latest round of bad news. This is the quote that empowered me to cherish the things that I have left rather than mourn over the things I have lost. This is the quote that I have posted on my phone and in several locations in my house. I thank the Lord for making sure I saw this.

There have been so many things I have taken for granted that RA has stolen from me forever… (Too many to list… And I wouldn’t want too because I’d be starting that pity party back up). I am determined to fight to keep the blessings and abilities I have left. I am determined to not give up. I am determined to keep pushing forward even when all I want to do is hide in my bed and give up. There is more to me than a set of things I can’t do. There is more to me than RA. Although the RA has impacted my life drastically, it does not define me – and I will continue to fight for that!

No matter what you’re facing today, don’t give up! Take the time you need for you – cope and deal with the bad things in your own way and your own time – then pick yourself back up (emotionally) and move forward. Its not easy, but its worth it and I know you can do it! You are stronger than your illness/disability/tragedy/bad day. Never give up!