RA Diaries: Bad values

Earlier this year, I wrote about my experiences with people who see illness as punishment for character flaws or alleged incorrect behavior, and believe that if they act a certain way they will never get sick.

The lone person who commented on the post (well, other than those offering to sell me designer purses at a low, low price) pointed out, rightly, that this is part of the cult of “positive thinking,” and that this mindset can be quite insidious to people who randomly got sick.

I don’t have a problem with positive thinking, per se. For that matter, I don’t even have a huge problem with denial. When you have a chronic progressive illness, denial can be your friend. Going around with “I’m sick, I’m sick, I’m sick, and there’s no cure” playing in your head every minute every day of your life is no way to live. It is, in most ways, worse than the illness itself. I think a lot of people, particularly doctors, forget what a psychological toll RA can have on its sufferers.

Sometimes, forgetting that you’re ill, even for a moment, is the best gift you can get. So is hope — not for a cure, but for some concrete action you can take to feel better.

This past year I’ve taken several such actions. The biggest was the surgery. And the most recent was the weight loss diet and appropriate exercise regime.

And I do feel better. But I dread my rheumatologist visit in September, because I fear the results from my bloodwork will contradict all my positive actions and all my hope.

Am I being silly? Perhaps. But not entirely unrealistic, since the test last month showed mostly bad values.

Sed rate? Way up. Liver values? High enough that the doctor cut back on my medication. I’ve never been much of a drinker, but alcohol is permanently forbidden. Blood sugar? Too high. Do I now have to add Type II Diabetes to my list? GAAAH.

And here’s the kicker: When I took the test, I had lost 15 pounds. I was walking several miles a week. My diet was veggie heavy (I joined a CSA), and kale, chard, spinach and broccoli is now a permanent part of the rotation. I eat whole grains, lean meats, have essentially forsaken soda.

And yet — bad values. Because you can do everything right and still get screwed. Because life sucks that way.

I’m still doing the healthy lifestyle thing. I feel a lot better. Things can always be worse. I still have hope. What else can I do?

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.


  • I do love this post because I love the balance that you have for being realistic and optimistic. I think trying to find that balance that will help with whatever illness or disability one has is really tough sometimes, especially when you realize that one size does not fit all in terms of getting better.

    I hope your results come out good and if not, keep optimistic 🙂

  • Thanks, Nanci. I try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

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