When you live with a chronic illness, EVERYONE becomes a “doctor” and seems to think that they have the right to tell you what you should and should not do.
It can become baffling when everyone you know is offering their home remedies, their experiences with medications, names of doctors, alternative therapies, stories good and bad about themselves or others who have your same condition, and so forth. While these people are usually just trying to be helpful, it can at times become overwhelming and have quite the opposite effect on the patient.
While it IS true that you should always seek 2nd and even 3rd opinions regarding major medical decisions if you are not 100% comfortable, typically your doctor knows best and has your best interests at heart. Always listen to the advice of your physician, unless you feel that something is “off” or you do not agree with it – and in this case, see another specialist.
Keep in mind that we ALL have different genetic makeups, vastly varied medical and family backgrounds, and totally different health histories from one another. We have different allergies, different pain tolerances, different complications, and different responses to treatments. Additionally, since our bodies are all SO different, the same condition and/or medication can affect us completely differently from how someone else would be affected in the same exact instance.
While some people with Rheumatoid Arthritis are able to hit the gym like there’s nothing wrong with them, others are home-bound or in a wheelchair. Everyone – and I mean everyone ranging from healthy to ill – has different ability levels. Be mindful of this when talking to others. Just because “your” arthritis means that you can work full-time AND work out every day, doesn’t mean that mine or Jane Doe’s affects us the same way…and if anyone should be empathetic or compassionate to that fact, it should be someone else with the same disease.
People living with the same conditions – rheumatoid arthritis, for example – are all fighting the same battle. Remember that!! Also, remember that everyone’s choices are their own. There is nothing wrong with someone who utilizes an all-natural regimen and an alternative approach to managing their RA. There is, likewise, nothing wrong with someone who needs the strongest biologics and pain medications to manage their condition.
EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! So, I encourage you to “do your thing” when it comes to managing your arthritis.
There is no competition to see who is sickest, who is healthiest, who is right, or who is wrong. The only people who should be involved in your medical care are you, your doctor, and maybe a parent or spouse. Advice and opinions from others should be welcomed (it is always nice to know all of your options) but the final decisions remain with you.
Do you bike or jog to stay active? Swim or do water-aerobics? Prefer tai-chi and yoga? Maybe right now you’re too disabled to do any of these. That’s fine. Walking or stretching works, too!
Do you put on a brave face and do your best to hide your illness from others? Are you an “open book” about your conditions, preferring to vent and share? Are you a realist, an optimist, or a healthy dose of both? Every person copes differently while living with a chronic illness. Some cry and mourn their healthier selves; others choose to stay positive and smiling. Neither is right or wrong – it’s what is right for YOU personally!
Do you see a therapist or counselor to help you manage your pain? Do you partake in pain-management or biofeedback? Oxygen therapy? Use acupuncture or chiropractic? Only prefer traditional Western medicine in regards to your methods and treatments using doctor-prescribed exercises, pills, and vitamins? Or, do you practice religion or faith to help you get by? Eat a specialized diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants? Does more sleep or less sleep work for you? If you need a nap, take one, rest up! Whatever works!
As long as you are not ignoring the advice of your doctor, you should do what makes your life easier and more comfortable for you! No one has the right to tell you what to do or make you feel guilty about what you don’t. Keep your mind open to different ways to treat and/or cope with your illness, but also rest assured that you define your own path – so do what works for you!
There is beauty in the fact that we are all different. Different on the outside, different within. Doesn’t it seem obvious that our medical treatments and the way in which we respond to them would be different, too?
Be mindful of this fact – people with rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions already face a lot of judgement from the outside world….don’t add to it by being judgmental of one another’s treatment plans or paths to wellness!
“To each their own” should be the mantra; after all, we are all walking, running, wheeling, or crawling towards the same exact goal: optimal health!
Always talk with your doctor and make choices that work for YOU! 🙂
Thank you for helping spread the word about RA! I of course have bookmarked this one 🙂 See you tomorrow in #rheum, you are right, We are all different, what works for me doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else. I can only try to help and comfort those in need and provide support and info, as you do. Blessings.
Great post, Ashley! I think sometimes people with chronic illnesses even feel pressured by standards (including unspoken ones) that others with chronic illnesses have. As you said, we’re not in a contest, we’re just trying to be healthy, using the path that works best for us. It is so important to remember that and not let anxiety come from OTHER’S paths to wellness.