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Lately, I have not been able to rock-climb as much as I would like. Each time I scale the wall, I fight a flare that same evening.

Not too long ago, I climbed and experienced no consequences. It has been weeks since this last happened.

When I was first diagnosed, I not only fought for ability, I also fought for my future. I had a pre-veterinary medicine concentration in college. I planned to go to veterinary school. I never wanted to be or do anything else.

When I could not keep my symptoms under control, I realized I may have to give up on my dream, even though I could not imagine doing anything else.

I still struggle with this every day. I still work towards that same goal. Every day I fight to go to vet school.

Regardless, I know in the back of my head (that little demon in my mind) I may have to give up on it.

 

I refuse to let that happen with rock-climbing. I already gave up my passion, I WILL NOT let it happen with my love.

Given the state I end up in after I rock-climb, it may be doing more harm than good. Still, I cannot let it go.

Why?

It is one of the few things in life that makes me feel good, mentally. I get up on the wall and the entire world melts away. It is just me and the wall.

I love that. I love solving puzzles. I love that I do not need a lot of muscle or strength. I love that that I rely only on myself and my body.

I climb with a belayer but when I am up on that wall that person is only there to make sure I do not fall. Every climber completes moves differently. There is no one way to grab a hold, stand up on a toe, hook a heel, or balance the core.

The most important part of climbing to me is not the actual route but the mental state it puts me in. I am solely focused on one thing. If my mind wanders, I will fall.

This is truly the only time I forget I have rheumatoid arthritis. I cannot remember that I have this physical disease. It paralyzes me on the wall. I have to think I am healthy and capable of this activity.

This is the only time I think this way. RA follows me everywhere else I go.

I cannot let go of rock-climbing. Not just yet. I cannot lose the last thing that makes me, me. My after-climbing flares are disabling but, to me, that is a small price to pay.

 

Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA

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