Rheumatoid Arthritis – Priorities

It’s been forever since I wrote a blog post.  I’ve been chugging along, had a great summer, have been feeling good, am doing some experimenting with foods, supplements, etc…  But save that for another day.  Priorities!

For 10+ years, I’ve been thinking about going to see an alternative doctor (functional medicine, naturopath, whatever).  They’re so expensive, I routinely talk myself out of it.  At this point, however, I have some really detailed questions about my body, and I think I might even have some idea as to what’s at the heart of my particular RA, but I don’t understand it very well.  I think now might be the time to find a doctor.  I want one that looks at me not as a sick person, but as a person who is lacking health.  How do I get back the health? 

I’ve been googling Functional Medicine doctors, and I found one with a good foundation in Paleo, and she herself has suffered some of the same illnesses that run in my family.  I plan to make an appointment this week.  In the meantime, I got on her website and downloaded a 15 page intake form.  It asked tons of questions, some of which I never thought about before.  One set of questions asked me to rate priorities in my life from 1-8.  After that, it asked me to rate how I felt I was doing with those priorities (rating 0-3).  I don’t want to copy hers exactly, but I’m going to throw some things out there, some from the questionnaire and others from me.  How would you rate them as a priority (1 being high and 8 being low) and how would you rate how you’re doing with them (0 being not even on your radar and 3 being great)?  Would you add anything else to the list?

  • ___ Longevity
  • ___ Personal Appearance
  • ___ Appearance of your home/car/etc…
  • ___ Relationships with friends and family
  • ___ Sex life
  • ___ Independence
  • ___ Health
  • ___ Maintaining a job/career

Keeping in mind I had a different list, I was rather pleased with how mine came out.  There wasn’t a discrepancy between my priorities and how I was doing with them.  For example, I think appearance was last (8), and I also scored it a 0.  I’m not very happy with my appearance, but it’s also not a priority.  I don’t beat myself up about it.  I don’t routinely get my hair cut, I don’t wear make-up, don’t wear jewelery, I usually wear the same pair of shoes until they wear out, I don’t have fancy clothes, etc…  Now if I had rated appearance from 1-4 or so, and still scored myself a 0 in terms of my satisfaction in that area, I imagine that would create quite a bit of anxiety.  But then there are outside influences, right?  Yes!  And that’s where any appearance anxiety is coming from.  I am much more likely to get my hair cut when I am seeing family (especially my side of the family).  I’m much more likely to buy a new outfit or something if a family function is coming up. 

I don’t think my home’s appearance was on the list, but it’s something that probably ought to be.  I hear so many people with RA having trouble keeping up with their homes and families.  I really don’t care what my house looks like when it’s just my husband, son, and me.  It’s very cluttered most of the time.  Well, I should clarify that.  We do reach levels of clutter that do start to drive me crazy, and that’s generally when things get cleaned up.  With outside influences though, that REALLY REALLY drives up my anxiety.  Having my family come to visit and trying to get the house “suitable” for them (FYI, they ALL have house-cleaners, I don’t) is probably my #1 time to have a flare.  I think the “trying to get it all done” combined with the anxiety (I’ve actually had family members examine my closets!) of what they’ll say, can really do me in.  I really love having my family come to visit though.  I lost my grandmothers in 2004 and 2005 and my mother in 2008.  It’s much harder to get the family together without these matriarchs, but it’s important and I like to do it!

So, here’s an interesting thing to try.  Make a list like the one above.  Rank it in order of your priorities (1-8 or however many you have).  Then rank 0-3 on how you’re doing with them.  For kicks and giggles, make another column and rank where you think outside influences (your husband, family, coworkers, friends, etc…) would put these things.  I think my family would rank home appearance very high (maybe even a 1) and would rank my house a 0 (cluttered mess) on most days.  I think my husband would put “sex life” as a higher priority than I would.

Here’s another thing to think about.  Can we, as folks with RA, rank longevity high if things like careers or home appearance are also high.  Putting ourselves through the kind of stress it takes to “maintain appearances” might be counterproductive to a long life.

So, when we’re sitting here trying to “have it all” and beating ourselves up over every little choice we make, maybe we ought to go back to our priorities.  Everybody’s priorities are different, and I’m sure if I didn’t have RA, health would have a lower rank of importance and a higher rank of how I’m doing with it.  But I do have RA, and my priorities are different as a result.  Other folks may or may not see that, but maybe you can teach them this little game.

I’d love some comments on this post either here or on Facebook (see Facebook link below the picture at the top).  Love and good health to you all!