RA meds work! True, they don’t cure the disease, but they’re designed to slow down progression and make it possible to have a life. I’d have to say that my life is a testament to how well my meds are working.
Before diagnosis, I remember having to limit myself to three errands a day. Two was even better. Best was to stay home and not do anything. Everything hurt, and I was just too exhausted to do anything. Nothing could be done before 8 a.m., and I had to be back home by noon because my energy for the day was gone by then.
In contrast, now I’m able to go out and do things — many things. For example, between them, my two boys have had ten baseball games and two track meets in the past week. After schoolwork in the mornings, we leave the house around 1:30 (way past noon), drop one son off for practice, drop the other off for his practice, stop at the store if needed, go home and make/pack dinner, then go back to pick up boys from afternoon practice (or watch & cheer if it’s a game/meet day). On baseball game days (most days, it seems), drive to evening games, some of which are an hour away, and cheer some more. Thanks to RA meds, I can do more than three things in one day, and can be gone from the house past noon. Honestly, my entire family’s life would be very different without biologics, because that’s what it took to get me to this point.
That doesn’t mean that I’m pain-free, or that there aren’t rough days, but things are manageable.
High school basketball begins in early November, as do practices and tournaments for my younger son’s select basketball team. Middle school basketball begins the first week in February, so the select team ends their season (thankfully we stop – some teams go year-round). Then high school basketball ends a week later. High schoolers have a week off before baseball turnouts, then games start the first week of March. Youth league baseball practices also start practicing in mid-February, so kids are doing both basketball and baseball. Basketball season is over at the end of March, then track begins in April (right after school), as do youth baseball games (in the evenings and on weekends). The high school baseball season ends the first week of May, then American Legion teams start the next day. Unless the high school team makes playoffs, in which case kids are playing on two teams. Track ends the first week of June, but high school’s summer basketball program starts, so we’re still juggling three teams. Baseball runs into July, but this year the coaches are trying to ensure that people have a break, so we’ll get most of a month off between the end of summer ball and the start of fall ball. Fall baseball practices for both boys begin in August, with games running through October. Then it starts all over again.
Sports weren’t like this when I was a kid (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Sports had distinct seasons, and coaches didn’t make kids feel like they couldn’t make the regular season team if they didn’t also participate in extended stuff. The best I can do is juggle, try to teach about having some balance, and support my kids in pursuing their dreams.
But I can! The way I felt before starting on a biologic, there is no way my sons would be able to play sports because I wouldn’t be able to transport them. I can only imagine what family life must have been like for RA patients before biologics came out.
Plus, we still have cows, horses, alpacas, and ducks to feed. Meals need to be cooked, laundry needs to be washed, and it’s nice to vacuum the floor every now and again.
My two sports-minded sons aren’t the only kids in this family.
- My oldest just completed his junior year of college. He is currently in Greece. A group of students have spent the past year studying Greek history (3 history credits), as well as physical setting of the Bible (3 Biblical Literature credits), and are now travelling in Greece to see the places they’ve been learning about. Once he returns, he has an internship set up (same place he worked last summer).
- My older daughter is a college sophomore, and is taking time for some real-world experience before finishing her degree. She is fundraising, and leaves soon for a six-month trip that begins with 12-weeks of training, followed by hands-on medical missions work. They’ll start out at a clinic in Kolkata, then head either to southeast Asia, Africa, or Nepal (depending on needs at the time). In addition to earning money for her trip, she’s doing all the pre-trip things one needs to do like get travel vaccines, find a good-quality backpack she can live out of while she’s gone, learn about the places she’ll be going, renew her passport, apply for visas…
- My younger daughter is nearly done with her high school work and took two dual-credit courses this year. She just registered for classes at her first-choice college, so is doing all the college prep activities that 18 year olds do.
Life is busy! I am so thankful that I have been able to keep up with my kids’ activities!