Worrying about the future


From the moment of diagnosis with a chronic illness, like rheumatoid arthritis, patients begin to have feelings of uncertainty and questions about the future. While patients are looking for measurable results, many of the questions they have do not have tangible answers.

Shortly after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I wanted to know whether things would get worse for me and whether I could continue to contribute financially and to take care of my family.  I desperately wanted someone to offer me a response that was quantifiable and the only response my rheumatologist offered was that she did not know and the course of the disease is different for everyone.

Most doctors will advise a patient that rheumatoid arthritis differs by individual and that symptoms can range from mild to severe.  This can include periods of flare-ups and inflammation and also, stages of remission.  Moreover, there are no defining factors to predicting what the future with rheumatoid arthritis holds.  As a result, patients have doubts that start to set in about the insecurity that rheumatoid arthritis will bring into their lives.

I had many questions, especially in the first year after my diagnosis, including whether I would become disabled, how having rheumatoid arthritis would affect my life and my future plans, and whether I could continue to work and to care for loved ones. I have not found any concrete answers to these questions. I have just discovered that, rather than focusing on the unknown, my energy would be better served by learning to manage my disease and finding healthy ways to cope.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis pain can create uncertainty and unpredictably so it is not unusual for RA patients to worry about the future.   What it comes down is accepting and understanding that the future cannot be predicted and that there is point in prompting feelings of stress and anxiety that will only have a negative impact on your disease and overall health.  By accepting your current situation and finding effective ways to manage your disease and healthy methods for coping, you can give yourself the best outcomes possible.


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