Dear Ms. Meniscus:
I am a 35-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed about ten years ago and haven't had a flare in three years. However, the last flare was horrible and put me in bed for three months. Now my husband wants to go on a vacation, but I haven't been able to go away since that flare because I am terrified at the idea of being away and having a flare where I am in horrible pain and can't move. My husband says I am being unreasonable and may need to see a therapist because my attitude is not healthy.
Barb at Home
Madame certainly understands that the idea of being away from home and experiencing a flare-up would be distressing and anxiety provoking; yet she worries that you are living life as if a brush fire is about to erupt any moment. It has been three years since your last flare-up, and while you feel safer remaining close to home, the very possibility of a flare-up is holding you and your husband prisoners of sorts.
You and your husband deserve a vacation. If you refuse to leave home ever again, then what? Imagine a decade going by and neither of you has had a change of scenery. Ask yourself—is this fair or reasonable? Madame senses that you know the answer to that question. Why not consider taking a vacation that is far away enough that it will allow you both to feel as if you've gotten "away from it all" but with a built-in safety feature? It's possible if you keep the travel distance at a two-to-four hour drive from home.
In addition, you can speak to your doctor who will assure you that if you experience any problems, a prescription can be called in immediately. If after considering these options you still feel it is impossible to take a vacation closer to home, then you should take the advice and see a therapist who can help you manage the anxiety. While it is an unfortunate reality that flare- ups can and do occur with RA, you don't want to live each day with unrelenting stress… ready for the fire at any given moment.
You deserve as well as require peace of mind –try a vacation compromise- and consider this: a change of scenery could do more for you than you have allowed yourself to imagine.
Madame wishes you a gentle journey