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The DFW Metroplex has an intricate system of highways, streets, and side roads that somehow manages to move  millions of us from one place to another. These transportation arteries are connected through an amazing array of engineering marvels constructed of connectors, cloverleafs, and fly overs. One interchange that I drive through twice each work day has been featured on the History Channel and is aptly named the High-Five because it soars about 60 feet in the air and has five levels of roadway that connect I-75 and I-635.

I was recently driving from downtown to my home in North Dallas and needed to take the Dallas North Tollway (DNT). This particular intersection is a single-lane raised ramp that connects one of the main downtown surface streets to the higher level of the DNT. Since it’s a single lane, it is often backed up. It’s also narrow, curved, and rises off the ground about 20 feet. (What’s not to love?)

It seemed particularly backed up on this occasion and I noted that while there were no cars actually on the ramp, there was a single car that was apparently stalled right at the entrance of the ramp. There was no way to get around the car on to the ramp and traffic was quickly backing up.

Sure enough, the emergency flashers came on the car, but it [thankfully] began to ease up the ramp at about 10-15 mph. It came to a complete stop at the crest of the ramp, then continued inching carefully forward.

When we reached the DNT, and were once again on solid ground with four straight lanes of traffic, the flashers went off and the car drove away at highway speed.

It was not a problem with the car, it was a problem with the driver. The driver was apparently terrified of driving on the overpass, and thus slowed down.

The fact of the matter is, you can get anywhere in DFW on side streets, without getting on a highway. It’s not as fast or possibly convenient, but its possible. While there are trade offs, if you’re afraid of driving on overpasses, perhaps side streets are a better option.

Having RA is similar. Just like there is an intricate network of transportation arteries in DFW, there is a wide range of treatment options for our disease. Some of them are really scary. They have side effects that affect vision, increase the risk of cancer, and who knows what else. Perhaps a safer route is an anti-inflammatory diet, natural supplements, exercise, and massage. Every day we have to face our fears and choose the route that is best for us.

My one irrational fear is the fear of falling. Not of heights — of falling. I’ll leap at the chance to fly in a helicopter, but I simply will not climb a ladder to change a light bulb. I don’t think I’ll fall out of the helicopter, but I’m convinced that I’ll fall of the ladder.

So I contemplate RA and wonder if one of the emotions I feel is fear. Perhaps. Probably. But what of?

Looking closer, I realize that it’s that deep, dark, secret fear that each of carries within. [No, not public speaking or that underwear thing.] It’s the fear of the unknown.

I’m a micro-managing, type-A, control freak and not knowing what this disease holds for my future is scary. Will I be able to continue to work? walk? drive?

What I’ve come to understand is that like all other things in life, as the future becomes the present and things are revealed, I can deal with it. And like other things in life — relationships, career — it truly is a one day at a time situation. And I can do that. I can make decisions based on what I know today, how I feel today, that will hopefully make my tomorrows the best they can be.

Thanks for checking in.

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