Thinking…

This attitude button is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

Could I do more?  Instead of wishing I felt better, would it work to just get on with living regardless of how I feel?  If I already feel crummy, I might as well get something accomplished!

I’ve been thinking about what I might do differently.  Better balanced meals?  More time with my family and less on the computer?  Get back to exercising daily instead of sporadically?  In the midst of pondering what changes to make, I read a couple interesting blogs.

First, Wren (RheumaBlog) got all riled up.  Yes, I know I should probably eat better, and I could even lose a few pounds.  I told myself I’d get right on it – right after all the Christmas cookies and candy were gone.

Then Helen (Pens & Needles) decided to set some goals and start eating better.  I can do that.  As soon as I have more energy.  After the cake has been eaten.

Then Dr. Rob got mad at Congress - there’s a lot of that going around.

The real problem is that congress is thinking of short-term political gain while sabotaging the long-term…  

Then I realized something: I do the same thing in my personal life.  I am trying to eat better and exercise, but that brownie in the break room looks awfully tempting.  A little indulgence now won’t hurt in the long-run, will it?  I start playing that damned Bejeweled game on Facebook instead of working around the house…

Living my life making decisions based on my immediate feelings is the same stupidity that infects congress.  I indulge for personal gain in the short-term and let tomorrow’s crisis build.  I have had people younger than me have heart attacks and die; do I really want my last night on earth be spent playing Bejeweled?  Worse yet, if I survive and keep acting in this way, do I really want the measure of my life be how many brownies I eat or what my high score is on a game?  It’s not that I don’t realize I should spend my days better; it’s just human nature that thinks in the now in ways that harm the future.

Ouch.  Food and time management in the same post.  Maybe we could just point fingers at Congress.

As I pondered the topic further, the Arthritis Today e-zine had an article that pointed out one of the things I’ve been thinking about:  now that I’ve figured out what this stupid disease is (sort of), it’s time to move on and live my life while I still have one.

Believe it or not, yesterday I found yet another pertinent post.  Whitecoat, who usually blogs about emergency medicine, had an interesting take on living with disease.

Please go read the links.  Let me know what you think.

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5 thoughts on “Thinking…

  1. I’m new to all this and don’t yet have the perspective that many who have lived with RA for years have, but I found a quote the other day that seemed relevant to my circumstances and that I liked so much I put it up on Twitter right away.

    It’s something I’m definitely going to try to keep in mind as I move forward with RA:

    “You don’t drown by falling in water. You drown by staying there.” – Robin Crow

    P.S. Loved the Whitecoat link and thought the Arthritis Today link had some thought-provoking things to say…

  2. Definitely much to ponder here. For me, I have taken the life’s too short approach. I do play close attention to my health, but not to a point where it consumes me. Most days, I have little energy and I conserve it for what is most important – which is my children. There are a lot of things that can wait until my kids are older and don’t really need me for every detail in their lives. I try to eat healthier by limiting the junk food that comes into my house. Motherhood is hard without adding RA (and in my case, both RA and Fibro). I figure you can only control what you can, and the rest well – you have to let go. It is not like you are going an a junk food binge on a daily basis or eating brownies (I love brownies) on a daily basis, indulge once in awhile.

    I ended up pondering at Whitecoat’s logic:
    “Sometimes the less you dwell on pain, the less you have pain.
    Goes back to the difference between life and living.
    You have to live your life, but you do it living with a disease, not living for a disease.
    Sometimes it does you good to tell the disease to get lost for a while.”

  3. Finding a balance while living day-to-day with RA and other chronic pain conditions is not as easy as it sounds. “Don’t obsess!” they say, but they also say “Keep up with your disease, follow doctor’s orders, take your meds, exercise and eat appropriately, schedule downtime for yourself, and for goodness sakes, get 8-10 hours of sleep every night!” Oh, and “Be strong! Don’t complain!” but “Communicate how you’re feeling to others. Don’t keep it bottled up inside…” Sheesh.

    And of course we try to do all this while also handling the myriad mundane problems, joys, chores, work and conundrums of life each and every day. Don’t obsess? Excuse me?

    Taking good care of myself (so that I can enjoy my life, hopefully) simply takes up a good part of my mind. I’d like to eat take-out pizza instead of a low-fat, high-protein baked chicken breast and a salad, but I hurt myself when I eat the pizza too often. That means I have to think about preparing the chicken, and the salad … I’d prefer to just get up in the morning and DO all the chores and jobs I need to do each day and leave the downtime for when it’s all done. But if I do that, I crash and can’t get nearly as much done as I do when I take the time to be mindful and plan breaks into my day.

    Managing a chronic pain condition takes time. It takes planning and thought. Mindfulness is exactly that. While I agree that we CAN go overboard and become so obsessed with the disease and its affects on us that we can make ourselves even sicker, I get a little pushed out of shape when I’m made to feel that I’m obsessing. I also get pushed out of shape when I’m accused of not taking proper care of myself, and when I’m made to feel like I’m a hypochondriac because I “plan” for pain I know is inevitable and make advance arrangements for dealing with it.

    Sometimes it feels like I just can’t win. I’m damned if I do, and … well, you get my drift.

    Dr. Whitecoat’s story about his pain and how he just sort of pushed through it and distracted himself and laughed and forgot about it for a little while, well, that’s NORMAL for me, and I expect that it’s normal for most of us who read your blog, WarmSocks. If we didn’t do it — just live and laugh and love in spite of the pain — we’d have little interest in reading about it or thinking about ways to handle it. We’d just sit in a corner with a blanket over our head and groan.

    Finding balance is a lifelong challenge for those of us with chronic pain and disability. I don’t know about you, but my “obsession” with it has also made me acutely appreciative of the small, everyday joys and beauties of life, the “gifts,” as I choose to think of them. The wren singing outside my window makes me sigh and smile even though my hands hurt. The incredible, miraculous green growth on the brown, brittle clematis vines outside the door give me hope for spring, and get me thinking about the things I want to do outside when it comes. My daughter’s cats, siblings sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the little folding TV dinner table under the window, watching the birds at the feeders just a few feet away but impossibly out of their reach — they’re a gift, too, one that makes me laugh.

    Balance. We all work at it every day. But I’m not going to obsess over it. ;o)

  4. @Laurie – I like that quote. Thanks.

    @Lana – Kids grow fast. I remember being so desperate that I sent my three-year-old outside without me and told him I’d pay one cent for every minute he’d stay out there. At two minutes he pressed his nose against the sliding glass door and stared at me, wanting my company more than time to run and play in the yard. It seemed like hours, but was really only about 30 seconds until I opened the door, paid him his 3 cents, and welcomed him back into the house. Now that kid will take off and spend the entire day outdoors, only coming in if he needs to borrow the car keys. Enjoy them while you can because they grow quickly and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

    @Wren – I don’t think you obsess. You seem to have figured out a pretty good balance. That’s obvious from reading your blog.

    We have to understand what our doctors are telling us, and we have to make sure we follow through on our treatment plan. Taking care of ourselves requires diligence. There are a few people, though, (who don’t comment here) who do seem to have gone overboard. Jumping from one trend to the next instead of getting on with life is not good.

    One person who I’ve thought for a while was way over the top on all this was highly offended by the AT article. The article says, Signs that overfocusing has become a mental health concern are preoccupation with minor physical complaints, seeking repeated physical exams and tests, extensively researching a condition, feeling that doctors and specialists don’t understand the problem, and seeking constant reassurance from friends and family about physical symptoms. How can someone read that and indignantly declare that the authors are idiots and obviously the studies cited were wrong because she knows from her own experience that doctors don’t understand how awful her pain is. Being the ever-so-tactful person that I am, I suggested that when you throw a shoe into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit.

    The AT article included these statements: “If you think you’re never going to get better and can’t stop thinking about your condition, you will have disturbance in your sleep, your muscles will tense up, and you’ll have more anxiety, all of which can affect your body and cause more pain,” and the nocebo effect, in which people believe so strongly that a negative outcome will occur that their bodies respond as though it is actually occurring, and people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who catastrophized about their condition reported more intense pain, functional impairment and depression than people who were able to focus away from the negative possibilities. Says Hassett, “Catastrophizing can lead to a sense of helplessness, the feeling that there is nothing you can do and that you just want to give up.” One researcher said, most people who catastrophize don’t even know they do it…

    I felt that it was worth examining my own life to make sure I don’t cross that thin line. Being aware is good. Obsessing isn’t.

  5. Pingback: Humbug to hypochondriasis « RheumaBlog

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