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One of the very first things I can remember learning, even before how to tie my shoes, was to color within the lines of my coloring book. I found out very quickly that coloring in the lines made prettier pictures and a better result than scribbling all over the page. I also figured out that coloring in the lines meant I was a big girl. Some kids that would come over to play didn’t get to color in my coloring books because they were too young to know how to stay within the lines and I didn’t want messy pictures in my book.

That lesson has stayed with me all my life and I’ve come to understand that our society as a whole operates best when we stay within the lines. Even today I pay my taxes, wait my turn at the deli counter, and (unlike my husband who thinks those pretty white and yellow lines on the pavement are simply design elements) obey traffic laws as well or better than most people in Dallas.

Needless to say, some of my pet peeves are people who don’t color within the lines. You know, the ones that take an overloaded basket of groceries to the 10-items-or-less line at the store. And the ones that weave recklessly in and out of traffic at high speed only to expect you to let them into your lane so they can exit ahead of you.

Some diseases are well-behaved and actually color within the lines. For example, if you stay home and take care of a cold, you’ll get well in about 7 days. If you don’t, it takes a week to get over it. Three-day measles were aptly named because they last, well, about three days.

RA, like a spoiled child that scribbles the sky a Martian red color, is not one of those diseases. There is no predictability between one person and another. There is not even any predictability within a person — except that when you really don’t need a flare, that’s when one shows up.

So what do you do?

All of us have different approaches to the disease. I do what works best in the rest of my life. I color within the lines. I exercise even when I don’t feel like it. I eat well even though there are yummier things to be had. I take drugs that have as many side effects as benefits. And I see my doctor who tries to give me hope and always gives me compassion.

So this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I have been given the 64-color box of crayons that include a wide range of options to treat my disease as well as a wonderful community of kindred spirits who are walking the same path I’m on.

I hope that you and yours have a happy and safe Thanksgiving and that you have wonderful blessings for which to be thankful.

Thanks for checking in.

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