A comment from one of our Facebook readers landed in my inbox last week, and it has been inviting me to think.

While you want your physician’s best advice, ultimately it is yours to decide, experiment and figure out. That’s the good news/bad news of treatment.

The reader, who has lived with RA for over forty years, reminded me that everyone with RA doesn’t function at the same level. Some have given up significant activities and have had to make their bodies and the disease the center of most days. Others have found that with some more minor adjustments, they can live the way they used to “before the diagnosis.” Most people fall in the middle of the spectrum.

But, it is a wide spectrum of reactions and limitations and possibilities. What works for you may not work at all for someone else – even someone the same age and gender. The effects of this disease are very personal – as personal as the experience of pain.

In the same way, what feels hopeful or an invitation to possibility for one person may remind another of a loss or closed door.

So, I come back to one of our basic tenets at CreakyJoints – you are the best judge of what works for you.

That is simple to say, but much less simple to act on in a world that offers pressures and inducements to do it the way everyone else does.

What does it require to live as the best judge for yourself?

A willingness to pushback and ask questions.

This can be hard when we are trained to be “good girls and boys.” You may have to practice asking questions or saying no to someone’s else’s supposedly good idea. It requires some mental and emotional stamina not to just go along with a treatment plan that doesn’t feel right to you or to ask for help when others say you should be fine.

Trust your body and your own emotional instincts.

You live in your body – you know what works, and what doesn’t – even more than the “experts” do. You are the best judge of pain, activity levels, the results of certain medications, food, and social activity.

While you want your physician’s best advice, ultimately it is yours to decide, experiment and figure out. That’s the good news/bad news of treatment.

Take time to let yourself reflect and evaluate.

It takes time to figure things out. We live in such hyper connected and speedy environments that we often feel we have to know in a second what we want, what is working, what is needed. But you don’t – (and I believe you can’t) know that quickly. The body and mind have to connect and communicate. This requires some attention so you aren’t simply reacting but making an informed and thoughtful choice.

Find some trusted allies.

Even though the work is to know yourself and what you need, it helps to listen to some folks you trust – to get their insight and best judgment. Use the sources that most help you make good decisions and help you feel your best. Look for the positive stories, those who are living well with their illness and give you a lift when you talk to them or read their blogs.

It can be work to live with your illness with all the details of life altered and more attention required to daily living. When you trust yourself, and treat yourself with the compassion and respect you would offer another, you are already on your way to making a smoother path.