One of the things I’ve enjoyed most the last few years is the connection I’ve made with other people in the RA community. Not only do I have the privilege of having a number of people who follow my blog (thank you!), I’ve been able to make the acquaintance (either virtually or physically or both) with other bloggers.

One of my favorite cohorts is Pollyanna Penguin who lives in the UK and has an expectedly and wonderfully British perspective on life, RA and the health system in England. In her dont-panicpost today she provides some excellent, universal advice for people who have been diagnosed with RA. Among her tips (which includes the admonition of “DON’T PANIC” ala Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is the important reminder that everyone’s journey is different. Just because one person’s path/treatment plan/experience includes certain challenges, doesn’t mean that yours will.

I am somewhat of a poster child for some worst-case scenarios due to the many surgeries I’ve had as a result of RA. But trust me, I know far more people with RA who have successful, productive non-eventful lives with successful treatment plans than I do who have had even one joint replacement. And my surgeries have greatly increased the quality of my life, relieving pain and allowing me to continue to lead a full and active life.

I think that part of the trap (if that’s the right word) that we bloggers (and other journalists) fall into, is that we tend to write about dealing with the challenges of a situation — in this case RA. It would be a pretty boring post to write that I got up, went to work, took a walk during lunch, met my husband for dinner after work and then got a good night’s sleep. (Repeat as necessary.) But that’s exactly what my routine was for years both before and after my diagnosis. Treatment plans and surgeries have been (for me) just sidebars in an otherwise pretty busy life. However, reading through my blog that documents all these experiences could be a pretty scary experience.

As bloggers, one of our goals is to help our readers deal with the challenges we’ve faced by relaying our personal experiences — so our blogs tend to focus on those events, perhaps at the expense of what “normal” means on a day-to-day basis.

But to underscore Polly’s invaluable point, everyone’s experience is different. RA affects each of us differently, we all react to medications and treatment plans differently and we all have different beliefs and fears. If I, as a blogger diagnosed with RA, can help you by sharing my experiences (including the good stuff as well as the scary), then my time is well spent.

I wish you the best on your journey with RA. Thanks for checking in.