Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place… alone and having to navigate new terrain?
I still remember the shock I felt the day I heard the words “You have Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
It was much like the day we landed on this remote arctic island.
A little surreal….a lot of questions….and an entirely new chapter of my life suddenly dropped open in my lap. The blank pages were staring back at me.
I had a new life now and I needed to find my way.
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Surviving in Harsh Conditions
My new RA diagnosis was both a relief and a frightening reality. I had no idea what it meant, but I now knew that my pain and suffering had a name.
Similarly, my new home above the tree line was an exciting new reality and a humbling experience.
The Arctic is vastly undiscovered and well known for its harsh conditions. Survival in this extreme climate is possible only with understanding, knowledge, and preparation. Doing research beforehand, and learning from experienced ones who have trudged along the tundra and successfully walked against the unrelenting winds is essential to thriving in these unique conditions.
Chronic illness, too, is filled with extreme challenges, or harsh conditions. Thriving with chronic illness is more than just taking a pill and moving on….it requires understanding, knowledge, and preparation. Doing research to educate yourself about the illness is a good place to start, and often additional benefits come from connecting with those who have already trudged along the path to wellness and rose above the unrelenting winds of chronic pain.
The Dark Season
Winter in the Arctic is a challenge not just because of the extreme temperatures, but also due to the darkness. Above the Arctic circle, it is 24 hours of darkness for several months, with hardly even a hint of sun on the horizon. The dark can be disorienting and can stifle one’s motivation to take on the challenges of each day.
A new diagnosis of a chronic illness can feel much the same. It can be a dark season in life. The heaviness of the diagnosis can be like darkness that hangs over you, as your mind processes the gravity of a chronic illness.
This isn’t something that will be like an injury that just heals and disappears over time. This is something that has forever changed your life. And it takes time to learn how to navigate it all, how to find those sources of light to direct you and help you find the way.
Though the Arctic is known for its unrelenting climate, it is also known for its inspiring beauty.
One of my favorite Arctic activities is to silently stand and gaze at the night sky. The amazing northern lights (aurora borealis) often dance across the dark canvas of night.
In the darkest of months, the lights shine the brightest. On the coldest of days, the lights wave and swirl and have the most rhythmic movements.
So too, in the journey of chronic illness, there can be great beacons of light in the “dark season”. Sometimes this light can wave and swirl and develop into something beautiful and inspiring.
Many chronic illness warriors have found a new purpose, a new community, and a new perspective that they didn’t have prior to their diagnosis. These are like beacons of light that light up our chronic illness journey.
Turning On the Light
It is my hope that this blog can be like a flash of the northern lights in your night sky. My aim is to share my journey, my experiences, and the lessons I’ve learned along with tips and tricks that help me get through each day as I cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I hope that my posts give a light of hope and an interesting perspective to add to your journey.
No matter if you are newly diagnosed or if you have been a chronic warrior for years…I hope you find hope and help here. <3