I've been thinking about fear a lot lately.
In general, I'm a worrier. Waiting and uncertainty are not my best friends. So, enter arthritis, stage left.
Safe to say I've done a fair share of panicking in the past 5 months. And some of it has been justified - it IS a very scary thing to come to terms with at my age (not that it's a picnic at any age!). The only certain thing with RA is that there are NO certainties. All I wanted to find out in the first couple of months was my 'prognosis'. I still terrify myself, every day, with thoughts of what might happen to me, my hands, by the time I'm 40.
But I've also noticed a different sort of fear which grips me daily. A fear of my own body and of 'doing too much'. Example: today I woke up with a bit of a throat infection. Nothing serious so far, a 'normal' person would just take some paracetamol, forget it and go about their day. My RA is behaving, I feel super duper apart from the throat, I should be happy.
Instead, I've been stressing all day: "Hmm is this a new RA symtom? Do inflamed throats have something to do with inflamed joints? Oh god, is my immune system going to go bonkers fighting the sore throat and will the arthritis flare up again? Am I growing an alien fungus inside my body, planted by green men from mars? Etc etc etc". RA makes me FEAR my body. I don't know what to do a lot of the time. There are too many 'should Is' and 'what ifs' - should I rest? Should I go to my yoga practice? If I go into work will I feel better or worse? Will travelling to a different climate flare me up? If I run will I regret it?
Even when nothing's inflamed (right now) I'm terrified of when it will happen again (after the sore throat?!) I didn't go to yoga today. I sat in with a friend, ate a massive pizza and watched Sex and the City. Hrmph. Did fear win, or was I being sensible? I don't even know. I just hate being afraid of living my life, the way I want to live it. Eleanor Roosevelt said that you:
"gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
Is this true for us RA-ers or is our fear often justified? I think I succumbed too easily to the RA fear today. Then again, maybe I just wanted an excuse to eat a huge pizza.