After writing my first post about how I’ve been getting on with my life since being diagnosed nearly eight years ago with Rhuematoid Arthritis (RA), I have been thinking a lot about how my friend, my enemy, RA, has changed me. I’m not a different person just physically, but RA has had a hand (like it or not) in shaping the choices I’ve made as a mom, the friendships I’ve made since, and the profession I’ve chosen to pursue.

And although I hated RA eight years ago and would have done anything to rid myself of her, I have come to a point where I can actually appreciate that RA has shaped who I’ve become. Sure, RA really sidetracked my life plan in many ways, but it also forced me to ask myself what was really important and how I was going to move forward to achieve those goals despite RA getting in the way or lingering in the background.

Today, RA and I have an understanding: I sometimes pretend I don’t know her and hike mountains with my daughter. Other days, RA reminds me with a painful wrist, a stiff finger or two, or a tender knee joint that I must do what she wants to do instead (usually involves a whole lot of nothing).

And I’m OK with that.  What’s that old saying? “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I keep RA very close to me so I can hear her when she’s not happy with me well in advance. So far, it has worked out very well for us.

Like it or not RA defines who I am now and I’ve learned to live and make the best of it.