My Rewards System

I had a minor break down yesterday.  When I woke up that morning, I couldn’t believe how swollen and painful my hands were.  Not only that, my toes , knees and left shoulder decided to join in the mix as well.  I immediately took my meds (including the newest pain killer my rheumatologist prescribed), got a hot bath, used compresses, the works.

To say the least, I wasn’t a happy camper, but then I had a little talk with my boyfriend, Donavon.  He reminded me to stay strong and fight this disease, and that wallowing in a mess on the couch was not going to make dealing with RA any easier (those are my words, not his; he was much nicer in his approach).   My negativity was only making matters worse.  I quickly saw how right he was, however I was still in a lot of pain.  It was hard to be positive at that moment, so instead I worked on rejecting the negativity. I was still on the brink of a pity-party, but I shut it all out.  Donavon fixed me lunch and we watched a movie together, and I focused all of my thoughts on that, forcing any feelings towards my still swollen digits out the window.  Eventually time ran its course, and the intense stiffness began to dull.

A couple hours passed and Donavon had to leave for class.  As I walked him to the door I saw how gorgeous it was outside and instantly longed to be out of my apartment, if only to just sit in the sun next to my complex’s pool.  I decided to attempt to get dressed so that I could enjoy the warm rays and cool breezes waiting for me on the other side of my apartment’s constricting walls.  It was a chore to dress, especially into jeans (which took about seven minutes alone to finally wiggle on), but I slowly inched my way to my goal.  I was determined, and I found myself thinking less about the pain and more about how great it would feel to relax in the fabulous weather.

Getting dressed, while being a simple task, also forced my joints to work just the right amount to make them feel the tiniest bit better.  My mood increased substantially while sitting under a tree at the lake (Donavon was kind enough to take me after his class, it was a much better alternative than sitting pool-side at my apartment complex).  And as my mood increased, the pain in my hands began to decrease more.

When I let myself get down about my RA, I find myself doing exactly what I did yesterday morning: wallowing in a puddle of self-pity and tears.  When I’m in that state, I don’t want to do anything.  Why should I?  Everything I do hurts anyway, so I should just lay here and cry some more, right?

WRONG.  When I pushed those negative feelings aside, I felt my strength come back.  I was in no way shape or form fit to run in a marathon, much less walk across campus to my classes.  But I could get dressed and put on a little make up.  I set little goals, and I was proud of myself after accomplishing them.  It’s like the video game “The Sims“: when you set a goal for your Sim, their mood meter goes up after it’s met.  I then set a goal to get down the steps of my apartment and into Donavon’s car, and then out of the car to a nice spot by the lake (where I then plopped myself down and stayed there…lol).

Best part of it all: After acheiving my goals, I rewarded  myself with some quality time with Donavon, some very chatty geese,  and good ‘ole Lake DeGray.  It honestly made my day.

After a little reflection, I’ve decided I want to try to do this every day, sort of implement a rewards system.  Every day, I’ll set little goals and reward myself when they are met.  It’s a good way to keep from thinking about what you can’t do because of the RA, and more about what fun thing you’ll do after taking care of a few things first.

I’m still working on a little research before posting part two of The “D” Word (Disabled), but I promise it’s coming soon.  Until then, trying using a rewards system of your own.  I’d love to know how you reward yourselves!

Stay healthy!  🙂


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sherri Taylor
    Mar 12, 2010 @ 21:11:53

    I am so thankful for this blog…I found so much helpful info. and I cannot wait to pass on the non-ra letter……..


  2. Chris M.
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 07:23:11

    You go Sweetie! Take one day at a time and remember your rewards system. I suffer from debilitating depression at times…your system is what I do to get through. The mind is a powerful thing and while it won’t cure your RA you have discovered that it can help you get through. Give yourself five minutes to waddle in pity then get up and mentally kick butt.

    You are a brave girl and I admire you for your efforts and your blog. You are not disabled…life has thrown you a challenge…one that I am sure you are up to meeting, greeting and beating!!



    • Cari Elliott
      Mar 14, 2010 @ 16:30:29

      Thank you so much, Chris, that really means a lot to me. I even got a little teary-eyed! 😛 It has definitely been a roller coaster ride these past few days, but after reading your comment, I feel like I can do anything. Thank you. 🙂


  3. Laurie
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 09:09:35

    Hey Cari!

    This sounds like a great idea. So far, my rewards system hasn’t gone beyond a Toblerone bar on the night I do my Methotrexate and Enbrel injections; yours is way more advanced!

    Must look into developing mine further!

    🙂 Laurie


    • Cari Elliott
      Mar 14, 2010 @ 16:26:52

      Hi, Laurie! I remember reading your blog about the Toblerone bars, if I ever have to switch back to Methotrexate injections I’ll def be doing the same! We need some candy after having to deal with that icky stuff. xD Thank you for reading!


  4. Trackback: Stress and Your Bones « My Bum Thumb

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