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Doing the Impossible in My Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

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“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” — Walt Disney

This quote has fueled my spirit, my entire life. When there were days I felt as if I could not go on, this kept me going. My life has been a whirlwind the last year. I met the love of my life, got married, moved, got a new job and had some personal triumphs.

I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 4. It was not an easy childhood to say the least. I had physical therapy, continuing the exercises with family members, and needed my legs massaged every morning in order to move. The list goes on and on. Oh, and lets not forget the medicine because that was an adventure all on its own. Fast forward to now — I have been able to get off major medicines and just stay on an anti-inflammatory. I still need to be careful and still feel pain. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of bad days, but now the decent days outweigh the bad and occasionally I have a really good day!

I went to the mountains on my honeymoon. I wanted to go hiking. My husband is far more physically inclined than I am, so he had to take way more breaks than he probably wanted to. I appreciate him more than he knows. We started small since we were there for a week. First we did a half mile trail; it was paved and I only struggled slightly with the incline, but it was so worth it.

Then we went to a slightly harder trail, not paved. I got discouraged because I got scared thinking, “what if I slip and hurt my joints?” or “what if I get there and can’t climb back up?” These thoughts were going through my head based on what I had dealt with in the past. I was scared and reluctantly gave up on this trail. Both of us were upset. As we headed back to the cabin, we happened upon another trail. I decided I was going to suck it up; I wanted to try again. This time I made it to the end.

I was so relieved that I was able to finish a longer trail. Granted, it was only a mile or so, but it was still a big accomplishment for me. Little did I know that wasn’t the end for me.

My husband wanted to do a trail at Tallulah Falls in Georgia. OK, I thought, I can climb to another waterfall. But this wasn’t just a waterfall, it was a gorge — the longest, most difficult trail we did. We climbed up the side of a mountain to some overlooks, then back down past where we started to continue our journey. Hundreds of stairs down, we came to a suspension bridge over the gorge. I was halfway there.

Now I just had to climb back up hundreds of stairs. Legs and lungs tired, I made it up the stairs to the other side of the gorge and up to the last few overlooks. I sat up on that mountain and thought about where I came from. Not just home, but as a kid, how far I have come. I sat up on that mountain and burst into tears. I felt like that little kid who wanted to do all these things but couldn’t.

I climbed a mountain that day.

Later that day and for the next couple days, I paid for that trip. Anti-inflammatory meds were a lifesaver; so was the hot tub. I relaxed, ate some good food and thought about how it felt to be on top of that mountain. All I could think of was that quote by Walt Disney. This was something that felt absolutely impossible to me and I made it happen. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I have my husband to thank for me being able to do it. Without him, I don’t think I would have been confident enough to finish the trail.

To anyone who is feeling especially down and out, I’ve been there. It doesn’t always get better right away, sometimes it takes 20 years, but when you have those good days, take advantage of them. Try and do the things you never thought you could do. You may just surprise yourself.

Getty image by Sean Pavone Photo.

Originally published: December 25, 2018
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