I don’t know what it is about the Olympics.  For two weeks I said goodbye to my usual group of characters — Locke, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Jack Bauer, Patty Hewes, and Liz Lemon — like they were yesterday’s news and said hello to an entirely foreign troupe of characters with unpronounceable names like Lysacek and Svindal.

I am always transfixed by the theatrics of these athletes and I suspect you were, too.  Every two years, no matter if it’s winter or We Are All Worthysummer, we are summoned to our television sets, to sit back in awe and wonder as we think about whether we, too, can achieve such greatness.

But the thing is, we are in the running to achieve such greatness.  We just don’t have the audience, the podium, the gold medals, or the pageantry of the national anthem and flag waving high above us in the sky.  Each and every day we are called upon to fight through one or more symptoms that cause others to whimper.  If only we could pop two Advil for our headache and call it a day.  Or call up the national press to let them know we’re injured and in pain.

But the thing is, we arthritics are in the running to achieve such greatness.  We just don’t have the audience, the podium, the gold medals, or the pageantry.

Managing our disease(s) requires great skill; mastering the idiosyncrasies of living with them requires great discipline on a par with our Olympic heroes.  Traversing moguls isn’t much unlike navigating through a day with stomach cramps and surprise joint pains brought on by a rain storm.  Ensuring that our emotions and bodies are steady and ready to weather the roller coaster of symptoms requires a commitment to sleep that doesn’t come easy to some (me!) and we need alarm clocks with three alarms to blast through the fatigue that keeps us nestled in our beds.  Olympic athletes recruit teams of experts to develop sleep strategies specific to their needs so they can maintain the edge that keeps them at the top of their game.  We’d be wise to follow their lead and start sleeping like an athlete.

There are days when I feel like a cross country skier huffing and puffing my way through my day, only to collapse on my couch with legs splayed out like a cat in a very un-womanly like position.  (You know you do it, too.)  I am constantly seeking strategies to prevent this unfortunate end to my day.  I’d much rather cruise through the front door and land a Double McTwist 1260 on my couch, wouldn’t you?

In the past few months, I’ve come to terms with my lack of discipline when it comes to managing my health.  I have been fighting against my diseases like a battering ram (clearly my chosen style growing up as the youngest sister of boys), but my boyfriend has brought to my attention an alternate way:  he practices judo and shared that judo means “the gentle way.”  The primary principle of judo is to use your opponent’s strength to defeat him.  I suspect many athletes achieve their goals with this winning strategy.  You don’t have to beat up your opponent to beat him.  Ahhh, very wise sensei.

I’m giving this gentler way a try and instilling more discipline into my life, in the hopes that I will ascend onto the podium of life and earn myself a gold medal. Or at least a few more pain free nights out with my friends.