Rheumatoid arthritis – and other auto immunes – HURT. Hurt horribly in all the places we don’t need hurt. Places needed to function favourably so we can get through this thing called life. Simple tasks that “they” do without thinking; “we” can’t or struggle to do. The normal and necessary just don’t happen very easily during the day and let’s not forget the sleepless nights between those days either. If RA had a theme song, surely the kids song:

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

(Apologies if that song now sticks around for a little longer than you would like.)

That about sums it up eh!  With a couple hands thrown in there too. And forever fatigue, brain fog, stiff hips, chronic inflammation, grey puffiness around the face and please, please don’t forget THE BLOAT. And the sucky thing here is, very few painless others understand that.

There is pain, and there IS RA pain.

Relentless as cellulite in summer and twice as sore.

For those reading that don’t know what rheumatoid arthritis (henceforth to be called RA) actually is…its part of the broad-spectrum autoimmune diseases. Each displays their own set of symptoms with some common to all. Type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, motor neurons disease, hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohns and too many others that are “progressive and associated with a systemic autoimmune disorder”. With RA specifically the warzone is the joints and personally my fingers, wrists and knees took the most hits.

In my words:

The body declares war on itself and the cells pac-man each other because they’re irritated.

Sassy little critters, these pac-men. Do they really need to behave so badly because of stress, bad digestion, a virus, the environment,  sometimes genetics and a huge dose of rotten luck? Maybe other things too, I don’t know. The kicker here is that the more you do the supposed “right thing” in healthy circles like boosting your immune system, the more you’re just feeding those cell cannibals inside you. RA might not necessarily be terminal, but it sure can feel like death, every day.

My journey has taken me through the waiting rooms of allopathic doctors, osteopaths, naturopaths, homeopaths and finally a Chinese Traditional Medicine doctor. I’ve also had the pleasure of physiotherapists, rehabilitation exercise and functional movement specialists. I’ve attended neuroplasticity conferences and listened to enough healing and restoration talks and tapes to turn my ears into turnips. I’ve scoured the Internet and read more words on this subject than the Great Wall of China has bricks. If I had a dollar for all the supplements in pill and powder form that have gone down my hatch, I’d long gone be back in my patch of paradise looking for angels in the clouds. This has been an exhausting and expensive journey fraught with fears and frustration. And always, always accompanied by pain and enough bloat to float a boat.

Give me strength!

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that’s one thing you wont have either.

Give me hope!

Yes please! Hope defined – is the positive expectation of something good. And my hope is that you’ll keep on keeping on until you find the answer that works for YOU. My answers, their answers and those answers do not stretch like spanx into a one size fits all. You have to find what works for YOU. That may take a week, that may take a year but without the hope that you’ll find your nemesis and nail it…it will take a lifetime.

My hope for you, as an autoimmune or RA sufferer, is that you’ll run and ride and really live to love your life again. Like I am.

Sooner rather than later.

I end with this quote, (author unknown to me)

“Do not say there is no hope

For breath is hope, this moment is hope,

That there is a sky and a single human alive

With a soul burning with love is hope”

If you’re breathing, the sky is above you and there are people around you – there is hope.

What’s your hope? Please let me know.