The summer is almost at its end. The days are getting shorter, the sunsets deeper, the lush green leaves are tinged with orange and a hint of crimson blushing around their edges. I look up at the sky, blue, with tiny wisps of clouds. I float on my back in the pool enjoying the peace of an early morning swim. There’s a small nip in the air, and the morning sunlight ripples across the light blue water in an iridescent orange hue. The colors are changing…
I have been a little bit absent for most of the summer, choosing to focus on the life that’s right in front of me. The summer was a beautiful adventure filled with vivid color. It was no more or no less remarkable than the last two years – my life has always been what I make it. The warm and dry weather of the summer is always the best season for managing my RA, even though there has been more humidity and sudden weather shifts this year – but even at its most stable RA is prone to changing its colors – except most of the time, we can’t see them.
The cool blue heart of RA is changing into a deep fiery red, ready to modify its course from summer to fall. In the misty mornings of September, my RA has become a loud whisper for Arthritis Awareness Month, reminding me that no matter how well I may be doing, its presence is always there. We can’t see the changing colors of RA, not the way we see the seasons change, but we can feel it and that’s what makes it so hard to understand. It’s challenging to acknowledge a disease that is so invisible – almost translucent.
One of the many colors we don’t see in RA or other chronic illness is the toll it can take on our mental health. It’s tough enough living with the physical manifestations of our disease, especially in today’s pandemic world, but it can take a turn for the worse if we fall down the rabbit hole of comparing our lives to others when there’s simply no comparison. Our circumstances are vastly different, so be proud of your own accomplishments, and don’t focus on what others are doing. Your successes and/or triumphs belong to you, and no one can take that away or top it, because no one is in exactly the same position. Celebrating your victories is a big part of Arthritis Awareness Month – and just imagine the rich color that small little detail can bring to your life.
The wind has arrived early, blowing in cooler mornings, dousing the late afternoon heat in the evening, and turning the sky from a bright blue to a deep violet. I can feel the shift between the earth changing over to a new season and how it changes the colors in my own life. I believe there’s a reason Arthritis Awareness Month falls in September – it’s so we can recognize, honor, and even celebrate the changing colors of our disease.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.