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Another stress management technique (which I think is closely associated with STP) is making sure you’re solving the right problem — and at the right time. This is not as obvious as it sounds and it applies to both immediate and more long-term issues.

A few years ago my car was having electrical problems and one Friday morning I went out to go to work and the car would not start. My immediate reaction was to figure out how to get roadside assistance out to give me a jump or otherwise revive the car. Then I realized that the real problem was not the car, but that I needed to get to work. If I didn’t have someplace I had to be, having a dead car wouldn’t have been an issue. I managed to get a lift to and from the office, then the next morning (Saturday) when I had more time to deal with it, I was able to get my car into the shop and resolve the car issue. If I had tried to solve the car problem first on Friday morning, I would have been (at best) late for work and frustrated by having to wait for roadside service.

About that same timeframe, my step-mother, siblings and I were in a discussion about which nursing home we needed to choose for my father. He had Parkinsons and my step-mother was no longer able to manage the situation. Then we stopped and asked ourselves if we were solving the right problem. Did my father really need to go to a nursing home or were there other alternatives that would allow him to remain at home? Given the lack of elder-care services available in the small community where they lived, as it turned out, the best solution was to place my father in a nursing home. However, we made that decision with the knowledge that we first asked the right questions and were solving the right problem.

How does this apply to RA? Living with the disease means an increasing number of important decisions need to be made. Do I have to have surgery? What are the alternatives? If I have to have surgery, does it need to be done now, or will postponing it have implications good or bad? Is the medication treating the disease or is it treating the symptoms (pain)? If you’re having a flare and aren’t ambulatory, you have a number of issues to solve: managing/postponing those things you would be doing if you could as well as managing your care during the flare.

None of this is easy. However, having a clear understanding of what the real issues are, leads to better management, better results, and less stress.

Thanks for checking in.

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