I’m Cecily Walker, And this is my personal website.

Hold On

This will be brief.

On Monday of this week, my doctor diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. RA is a disease that affects the joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. It can also cause fatigue, exhaustion, and insomnia. Emotional problems (from having to cope with constant pain) are also a possibility. I’m slowly typing this out with one hand — one finger, really. But I wanted to say something about what was going on with me in a space that would allow for more than 140 characters.

My doctor thinks that all of the problems I’ve been having in my hands, shoulders, and wrists over the last two years were probably RA flare-ups, but I wasn’t tested then, so we really have no way of knowing.

I don’t exactly know what this means other than I’ll have to manage this for the rest of my life, and I’ll have to learn to eat better, sleep more, exercise when I can, and stay vigilant. I’ll be seeing a specialist eventually, and will have more answers afterward. RA, if not kept in check, can lead to damaged joints, and I’ve even read that the life expectancy of RA patient can be shortened by as much as seven years, compared to people who don’t have RA. But I’m not going to think about that right now.

Instead, I’m choosing to stay positive. I have a roof over my head, a job I like, good friends who keep me in good spirits, and a small furry shadow whose antics always seem to make me laugh.

I’m holding on.

(Yes, I know dooce just blogged about Alabama Shakes, but I like the song too, and it fits the current mood. It isn’t plagarism. It’s inspiration.)

6 Responses to “Hold On”

  1. Do take care of yourself, Cecily.  I had a friend with RA (I say “had” because we’ve lost touch over the years). She did well for many years, and then went into a downward spiral and ended up in the hospital for quite an extended period because she wasn’t eating properly or taking care of herself. Literally, she nearly killed herself because she wasn’t caring for herself the way she knew she needed to, and it was painful for all of us to watch. It sounds like you’re taking things in stride and I hope that you’re not finding yourself in too much pain. Keep positive – it certainly can’t hurt anything to have the great attitude you do. 

  2. Thanks, G.E. Right now I’m a bit overwhelmed with learning all I can, and just trying to stay on top of the pain. I worry what this will mean for my dreams of taking a long bike vacation, what it will mean in terms of being independent well into my old age, but I suppose there is no time like the present to start taking better care of myself.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Cecily.  I’ve been tested myself in the past for RA but luckily it proved to be more emotional (nothing that a change in job didn’t cure) and a result of high humidity.  The emotional stuff can never be underestimated though, regardless of the actual diagnosis so when G.E. advises to take care of yourself, I strongly second that recommendation.  For me, it has been learning to say “no” and other wise set limits with others so that I can prioritize my own needs (not my wants, necessarily).  Saying “no” seems like it is easier said than done but I’ve found that doing so usually results fewer requests for the unreasonable and a happier me.  In one case it involved simply telling a person of high rank at my work that if she exercised with me her reputation for yelling and screaming things wouldn’t turn out the way she planned.  Stunned silence by my immediate superiors in the room but I kept my job and, although yelling and screaming continued to be tolerated by others, I was never on the receiving end of it.  In most cases, we don’t have to set these types of limits in order take care of ourselves – usually it is involves being asked to become responsible for things that aren’t our job or for problems that really aren’t emergencies.  Your physcial and mental health comes first.

  4. Thanks, Karen. You’ve given me great advice about learning to take care of myself. 

  5. I’m late to this C but all my good wishes to you. If you have any questions outside your regular doctor interactions I’m sure B would be happy to answer if she can. 

  6. Thanks, Michelle. The support of friends makes dealing with this a little easier.