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How RA Taught Me to Be Strong and Fearless

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Sitting in a cold, hostile room feeling numb and unsure of where to settle your eyes on or what to say next, you anxiously ponder what this means for the rest of your life and wonder how to go on.

Words that slipped so easily off the tongue of the man that stares back at you struggle to make sense in your mind. Just a few minutes prior, you were laughing at a meme someone tagged you in and now you have suddenly forgot that laughter even exists. This is a serious moment, one where even the brightest of lights won’t lighten up the mood or ease the tension in the air.

“It won’t happen to me.”

“That’ll never happen.”

“Those things only happen to those that bring it upon themselves.”

Sound familiar? More than likely you have heard one of these at some point in your life and probably even found yourself saying something similar.

No one plans to get sick. No one plans to have their entire life altered unexpectedly. No one thinks that when they woke up with a swollen finger around the age of one, that it was the beginning of a life long journey unlike most. A journey that shows the world just how big your brave is and what having strength truly means. A journey that has taught you how to be fearless from all the fiery hoops you had to jump through despite others doubt.

Undeniably it is hard to imagine that finding your 1-year-old with a swollen finger would make a parent think that it is the beginning of a lifelong, systemic battle, but sometimes that’s just what it is. Sometimes it isn’t just a swollen finger.

Sometimes it’s juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and sometimes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is only the first battle of the war.

Throughout life, complications arise and these earlier battles help prepare you for the battles yet to come. You can never be fully prepared for the diagnosis of yet another disease, especially one as rare as superior mesenteric artery syndrome because you don’t expect it to happen.

You don’t fight your war expecting another battle, you fight your war believing that this is the last battle. Why would I go through life anticipating future diagnoses?

While you can never be fully prepared going into each battle, you can bring in what each previous battle has taught you. I learned what strength really is and what it meant to be strong.

Strength is not being able to lift the heaviest or run the fastest. Strength is continuing when you think it is impossible to. Strength is knowing your limits and respecting those boundaries your body has, for good reason. Strength is also questioning these limits and knowing how and when to push them. Strength is not only accepting someone’s offers, but asking for help as well.

Your pride will still be there when you are in a better position physically and able to return the favor by helping them when they need it. Strength is taking a deep breath in, letting it out, and owning that breath that you deserve to take.

Strength is using each breath to its maximum potential. Strength is loving yourself so you can love others. Strength is loving yourself so others can love you.

Through all this strength, you get to the point that you are accepting of this new way of life.

I became fearless. There is no other word to describe the aftermath. Fearless is how you fight a war like no other. Being fearless is what keeps you fighting and is allowing yourself to be empowered by your inner strength.

Strength allows you to fight those battles, but being fearless wins the war.

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Originally published: March 6, 2017
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