I never thought my life would slow down, much less come to a screeching standstill due to RA. Everyone had come to know me as a social, outgoing person who was always on the go. But when rheumatoid arthritis began to affect my joints, and the fatigue set in, I quickly discovered I just couldn’t do what I used to. And that, in turn, affected my interactions with others.

Guilt is Normal, Not Necessary

At first, I felt guilty. When I went on my mini-honeymoon, I found myself so exhausted after just an hour of walking around the city that my husband and I had to cancel the rest of the day’s plans. I just didn’t have the stamina, and on top of it, I hurt.

Feeling bad that I had to bail on our kayaking outing (my husband’s favorite activity) just made it worse. Why could we not be out having fun instead of cooped up in a hotel room, with my new husband having to take care of me? I felt like I had let him down, big time, and I worried about his perception of our new life together. The truth is that he felt bad for me, though. While my guilty feelings were understandable, they weren’t necessary. All I needed to do was show I appreciated his care, and he was there.

Social Planning Strategies

That was not the first time I have had to cancel plans due to RA, and it won’t be the last. This disease is unpredictable. One day I’m fine and the next day I’m not. I’ve learned to leave my plans loose and to let people know about my situation, so they understand if I have to cancel. Sometimes, I may attend a party for a short while, just to say hello. And I always have an exit strategy, taking my own car in case I need to leave early or go take a nap when I’m on a trip out of town.

After canceling too many plans, sometimes the phone stops ringing. It’s easy to feel isolated, especially when you feel like you never get invited anymore. That’s when reaching out is even more important. You have to learn to take the initiative!

Make it Your Tiny Step

Call that friend, chat online, and invite them to lunch now! There is usually someone around who can make things work at the last minute, and sometimes those impromptu gatherings end up being the most special of all.

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