As I sit here today and reflect on what the start of a new year means to me, I can't help but think about the things that worked for me in the management of my health in 2016 and those things that didn't.
My 2016 was a relatively healthy one, with minimal joint pain and fatigue. I managed my health in a way that allowed me to enjoy my family and social life and I was also able to take on some exciting new work opportunities.
Unfortunately I was diagnosed with another life long disease (a consequence of living with RA for 14 years), which I admit did do its best to throw me off balance. But I managed to draw on my strengths and keep moving forward, despite the challenges it is likely to throw at me in the future.
Compared to many previous years, my RA behaved itself, or was it me that behaved myself?! I took my medication, stayed positive and active, put good food into my body and focused on the things I could do, rather than those I couldn't. I further developed a trusting, open and mutually respectful relationship with my rheumatologist and reconnected with my massage therapist who plays such an important role in my overall health and wellbeing.
One of the things that helped me immensely last year was self-advocacy. I consistently advocated for myself with my rheumatologist and other health care team members. I continued to be my bodies' number one fan, standing up for what it needed as its needs changed.
During a seven day hospital admission in September, I listened to my body and gave it the rest it so desperately needed to recover from illness. I resisted the pull to go home when I knew hospital was where I needed to be, despite desperately missing my children. It rewarded me by bouncing back relatively quickly and without flaring my joints, despite no RA drugs for a month!
However, I don't always do the right thing by my body. In fact, when I get busy and my thoughts are focused on giving to others, the first thing I forget about is me. I woke up a few days ago with terrible joint pain, wondering what I had done to exacerbate my symptoms (apart from the diet of mince pies and swiss chocolate for breakfast!). It took me a few minutes to realise I had forgotten to take my RA medications (both weekly oral drug and weekly biologic injection) for the last two weeks!
So today (while feeling very sore and looking forward to an injection tomorrow), on the 1st of January, I remind myself (and you) to always be your bodies' best advocate and make it a priority, no matter what else is happening in your life this year.
When you give your body what it needs to be as healthy as it can be - good food, medication, exercise, sleep, rest - you will be able to cope both physically and mentally with what your life and your health throws at you in 2017.
My wish for you is that this year is filled only with good health, happiness and love.