Contrasting what my life is like now, compared to when I was diagnosed, the difference is striking. Please read Part 1 first.
Things aren’t perfect now, but they’re so much better than back when RA first made its appearance.
In the mornings I wake and can stand up without crying out in pain. Jumping into the shower, washing, dressing, and all the rest are so much easier than back then. It’s not perfect, and sometimes my shoulders make showering and dressing take a little extra time, but I no longer need to sit down in the shower, and it doesn’t take twenty minutes just to get up in the morning.
Note that I didn’t say “get out of bed in the morning.” That’s because, due to my back, I’m sleeping in a recliner instead of my bed. This situation needs to change, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s minor. I’m in a house, not under a bridge or in a car. My back has improved some, and eventually I’ll return to sleeping in my bed.
Once I’m dressed, I’ll quickly check Facebook, but have too much to do to spend much time on the computer. Heading downstairs, I realize that my knees don’t hurt like they used to. Those little things are so easy to take for granted.
Quickly I grab a bite to eat, then check my in-box. That’s where my kids stack all their schoolwork for me to check. When I’m lucky, everything is checked and back on the appropriate shelves before the kids wake up.
I’d like to say that I exercise every morning, and I did for a while, but once the garden is in the ground, formal “exercise” fades away until fall when I no longer am doing work outside. I fully intend to resume my exercise routine after the garden has been harvested and preserved. For now, there’s a kitchen full of either clean dishes to put away or dirty dishes to wash, and a mountain of clothes in the laundry room. There are animals to feed, eggs to gather, children to tend, and it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day.
The kids need to get their schoolwork done by lunchtime. Science experiments can take place in the early afternoon after lunch. Here is where I really notice a difference. Before I got my diagnosis and effective treatment, my day was mostly done by noon. I was exhausted and couldn’t do anything else. Now, things are different.
For most of the school year we leave the house at 1:45 because my son plays sports and needs to be dropped at the high school for practice, then I must return at 4:00 to pick him up — except on game days, when timing is different and the whole family piles into the car so we can watch the team play. We attend all home games as well as away games that are within an hour of our house.
To some people, that might sound perfectly normal. Six years ago it would not have been possible. Now I can do things in the afternoon and evening without sleeping the next two days away. I can do more than three things in a day, and don’t have to run all errands before lunchtime.
If you want more examples, consider last month (when I had zero posts). June’s schedule was different than the main school year, partly because the public schools were dismissed, and partly because sports coaches are crazy. To tell the truth, it wouldn’t have been possible if my RA wasn’t mostly well controlled.
I am now a chauffer. Three days a week, my son has driver’s ed from 10:00 until noon, and it’s a forty-five minute drive to get there. Then there’s summer basketball, with games played Monday and Wednesday nights, and team practice Tuesday and Thursday nights, plus travel to tournaments on the weekends. This child also has a lawn care job for which he needs transportation.
My other son is playing on a select basketball team and all-stars baseball team, which means he has weekly practices for both teams, and has weekend tournaments in far-flung cities. This requires driving. Lots of driving. Fortunately I have two daughters who are wonderful young ladies. They agreed to help with transportation.
Before RA I never would have agreed to letting our sons have so many activities. Now I view things differently. This is not forever. Since they are able to do these things now, they should take advantage of the opportunities because they might not be there in the future. Both boys are learning how to judge what’s realistic, and this is a good age to learn not to overcommit themselves. This has been a fantastic experience for them.
Busy? Absolutely! And there is no way I could possibly have done it six years ago. I am so fortunate that my doctor believes in treating RA aggressively so that I can have a life, and blessed beyond belief that I am one of those who respond well to treatment.