This Battle I Fight: An RA Story

Everyone has a battle to fight, a cross to bear, a thorn in the side. Mine? Those  who know me might say it is my chronic disease, or maybe my past, others may look at me and say, “She has nothing to fight about, she has a great life.” My battle is not Rheumatoid Disease, and it is not my life, present or past – it is something embedded in my brain and peeks its ugly head in my world – its name is Pain.

You know when you have an enemy? When you recognize its characteristics and the effect it has on your daily life. Pain is my enemy – I have to recognize those depressing thoughts that result from chronic pain. The voice whispering the downcast words in my ear – “this is not worth it” “you should give up” “the pain is too much, you need to stay in bed” “you will never get better” “why bother”. Oh, the evilness haunts me – especially when I first wake and the pain strikes hard.

I wallow – yes, I do – I wallow in my own misery stew for a while. Then my husband gently reminds me, “You are not in this alone. I am with you.” Not in those exact words, but through his question of how I will treat my day. He challenges me to choose at the threshold – the event horizon – do I choose to allow the pain to blanket me once again, or do I choose to make the best of the day – regardless of the pain and discomfort. Indeed, he is right – it is my choice.

My body cries out for me to be still, lay down, don’t move, cover up – but what does my body know? It knows the pain, but is the pain really happening in my joints and muscles? Is it injuring me? No, but my brain thinks so.  For those who suffer from chronic pain, you may disagree – but let me explain the physiology of pain, as shown by Dr. Christopher Sletten of the Mayo Clinic about Central Sensitization Syndrome – how the brain processes pain. This is life-changing stuff, and even today I need a refresher.

Do I allow my body to conform and give up? Or do I choose a different path, a higher understanding of what pain really is, and what it is not? My husband, Greg, reminds me I have a choice. What do I choose today? I choose to override my brain and use helpful techniques to deal with the pain my body feels. Stretching, meditation and prayer, walking or movement, strengthening muscles, music (the power of music is undeniable), and positive thinking. These are my weapons to battle this enemy called pain.

Today, I choose to use my weapons, stand up and battle, keep my army of supporters by my side, my husband, my friend Tereasa, my family and friends. I choose to move, to lift, to work, to challenge this cross I bear, this thorn in my side. I choose to do battle and not give up or give in to the pain I feel. Is it easy? Nope, that’s why I call it a battle. I have to fight, the other choice is to give up – and I won’t, I won’t give up.

We all have our cross to bear, our thorn in the side, the battle we must fight – we have a choice – do we fight or do we give up? God will always be our strength – He will show us how to fight if we choose to, because His “power is made perfect in our weakness”. He will never give up on us, even if we give up on ourselves. Stand strong, friends, stand strong and wield your weapons – the battle is worth it – Jesus knows this and is with us always ready to give us rest and peace.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12: 7-9 NIV

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