Reality Check: Supermom to RA Flare

Originally posted 2011…

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) flares are not as fun as a “flare” might sound. If you aren’t familiar with RA, its an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks joints throughout the body. I am on some very strong disease-altering medicines to give me a great quality of life, most of my joints are pain free most of the time (thank goodness for insurance!). My hands and feet have obvious permanent damage and adapting to using my misshapen hands and stiff feet have become my new “normal.” Sometimes I am so focused on being Supermom, that I forget I have this disease, even if for a moment.

During a flare, all my joints ache and stiffen, my body feels fatigued and just shuts down, zapping all my energy. I have trouble walking. I guess its hard to describe pain effectively but it affects what I can do and how I sleep (or really, don’t sleep). It’s not only hard physically but emotionally, my reality check that I am not “normal”.

Having this disease for the past 10 years, I have gotten better at figuring out what causes my flares….hormones, stress, rainy weather, and the cold.

I guess it should not have surprised me then today, when my monthly flare started as I walked into the grocery store after a rather full and frustrating work day.  I think my amazement was how suddenly it came on.  One minute I was driving home in no pain, motivated to cook dinner, I step out of the car to go to the grocery store and my hips and knees lock up and have that dull ache that signals a flare for me.  I was tempted to give up and go home, that’s how suddenly the pain attacked me.

But I worked through the pain, finished shopping slower than usual and made my boys a simple, rather healthy dinner.  Superhubby did the dishes, watched the kids and remembered to give me a fish oil pill to help fight the inflammation. For those simple and very valuable acts of love, I am grateful for my supportive Superhubby.

I write this with tears in my eyes from the pain and frustration of enduring this disease. Tears of thankfulness for my amazing family. So much for the gazillion things I planned to catch up on tonight, Supermom will just have to wait till this passes. Until then, my “small victories” get even smaller and I do the best I can. I rest up and focus on just being with my family and appreciating those smiling faces that I work so hard for.  RA is forcing me to take a break and focus on what makes me most happy…my family.


  1. Hi Tanya! Your story hits close to home with me. I am 33 yrs old and have 3 girls 7th grade to 3 yrs old! I started having pain in my ankle one day that really never went away. In between the pain I started jogging as part of my vow to get super healthy for my kids. Well, I couldnt get much done after both my ankles felt like they were just going to give out on me and hurt sooo badly. I figured it was just running wrong or doing the wrong exercises. Well my wrist starting hurting shortly after and the pain would last about a week and go away. Then come back and go away. Now I am having awful pain in my fingers and noticed my right hand fingers look crooked. I dont know why I never noticed it before unless it happened that fast. I have been having joint pain for a long time. I just attributed it to my hyperthyroid. But I started reading up on RA and I’m wondering if the thyroid sort of lead to RA. IDK. Well I dont have insurance and am getting really scared. Insurance at my husbands job is way too expensive for us. Have any advice of natural way to help this pain? I saw you said fish pills? Thank you for giving me this place to let this out. I havent really let anyone know about this besides my husband.

    1. Hi Evelyn, thanks for sharing your situation with me. How long since the pain first started? I am sorry that your pain has not gone away and if I were you I would not ignore it. I have also heard there is a link between thryoid problems and RA and in fact, my rheumatologists usually run blood tests on me when I have increased pain to see if there are underlying thyroid problems. I also belong to a support group on Facebook and some of those patients did have thyroid problems. After having thyroid surgery, some of their pain was relieved. I believe there could be a connection but each patient’s RA is different.

      My RA was diagnosed by a simple blood test but it took 7 months for me to get in to see a rheumatologist for a first visit and get the diangosis. I would hope though that maybe a regular doctor could request a blood test done for inflammation and RA factor. In the meantime, the pain got so bad, I cried when I walked. I didn’t know what was happening to me. My point is not to scare you but to inform you and hopefully you can afford at least get a blood test done to rule out RA. While some people still have RA without testing positive for RA factor, mine was diagnosed because of a high RA factor and inflammation levels. Better to be safe than sorry. I sincerely hope it’s not RA but better to rule it out than go without it being treated and causing you worse complications, I wish RA went away on it’s own but sadly, it doesn’t.

      Enough of my soapbox, I have heard that an Anti-Inflammatory diet helps, it’s like the mediterranean diet, to focus on healthy fats from veggies, limit red meat, refined sugar, white rice.. Here’s a link to WebMD to explain it more and that fish oil supplements help. I’ve also heard that turmeric pills help as well. I admit when I eat healthier, I do feel better. Whether it’s because eating healthier helps me weigh less, which impacts my joints less, I don’t know. I do feel good, but it doesn’t take my pain away completely. Some patients in the RA support group have tried a Paleo or gluten free diet and it works wonders for them. I would say to keep exercising but try swimming and walking or a stationary bike rather than running. Diet and exercise do help me feel better. I needed hand therapy after surgery and the physical therapist gave me basically hard play doh to knead with my hands to increase my strength/grip. If you have play doh or a stress ball, maybe use that twice a day to see if it helps with your hand pain.

      Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have more questions, I’d be happy to help in any way I can by sharing my experience. Good luck to you and I hope your pain goes away on its own or you get the relief you need so you can be healthy for your beautiful girls (btw sounds like our kids are the same ages, but I’m a few years older than you 🙂 . Gentle hugs to you.

  2. RA seems to be such a rough thing to live with. My husband was diagnosed last Spring with it and was in such pain for so long. They finally found some medication,Enbrel, that seems to work. But I can see it has taken its toll on him.

    1. Hi Jenny, I am sorry your husband has to endure this also. I am glad the Enbrel provides him relief. I used to be on that too after my first son was born. It’s a disease full of highs and lows, it’s definitely taken both a physical and emotional toll on me. You all live in a rainy area, right? Do the rainy days make him hurt worse? They sure do for me and it doesn’t rain nearly as much down here! Take care, thanks for stopping by and sharing your and your husband’s story.

    2. Jenny, I should say also, the first year of having RA was the worst, enduring the pain and finally getting the diagnosis after 7 months of not knowing what was wrong. I hope the worst is behind your husband and now with Enbrel, he can get to feeling better quickly!

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