Camille Mason, a 54-year-old Blue Cross and Blue Shield member, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) when she was only 16 years old. She says eating right, exercising and being positive have helped her stay active and enjoy life.
At 16, I was already very active, working out every day, and conscious of my diet. Both of these things can make a significant difference in your selfcare when you have RA.
Since then, RA has moved on through my body as I have gotten older. I still continue to work out at least four times a week to keep my bone density, strength and flexibility. You don’t have to work with heavy weights to assist in keeping your bone density. In fact, I have found working with heavier weights to be difficult and cause discomfort. I continually stretch, even during my work day, to keep the muscles and joints healthy.
Eat a Healthy Diet
People think when you say “diet” that you are “on a diet,” and that just isn’t true at all. And eating clean and fresh does not have to be costly or wasteful. I use frozen fruits and vegetables to reduce waste. Yes, I do have fresh vegetables and fruits in my fridge as well.
We are carnivorous creatures who like to eat meat and enjoy the crunch of vegetables and fruits. We have to satisfy those needs.
Fast foods are a thing of the past, along with sodas and sugary drinks. I still love desserts and chocolate! Like I tell everyone, diet is a lifestyle and choice of eating healthy. If you crave something, it’s OK to have it once in a while, just not a steady diet of these foods. Anything in moderation is not going to hurt you.
Get Medical Help when Needed
The RA did catch up with me this last year when it started to impinge on my spinal cord. I had to have cervical spine surgery, and I feel much better. The RA has made my spine a little more fragile. Any high impact or consistent impact could cause my spine to fracture due to the arthritis.
To help, I also see a chiropractor who practices massage and Eastern culture therapies to assist in my movement. This has been a great help in keeping me fluid with movement when I am struggling.
But people look at me when I am stiff and in discomfort and ask why the surgery didn’t work. I explain that the surgery did work, but I still have RA in my spine. No matter how much surgery I have, I will always have it in my spine and other areas of my body.
RA is exhausting. Because people can’t see it, they don’t always understand the exhaustion or the need for down time. Don’t get me wrong, though. I am a very active person and always on the go. I have two sons and nine grandchildren — they bring me so much joy. I have a busy life with my close friends who are all musicians and have local bands.
I guess having RA means staying positive, taking good care of your body with what you put in it and continuing physical movement. Some days are harder than others, and then there are days you just feel awesome!
Listen to your body and be good to it. The power of the positive thinking and joy within you make the aches a little easier to tolerate and work around.
Please note that the advice in this article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The article is intended to be general information only. Please consult your physician for specific advice.