It’s been a long year for many reasons including a job change at work with increased responsibilities, constant experimenting with RA medications, four children all in or approaching the teen years, and an extraordinarily rainy winter/spring in Seattle. The good news is that it seems the Humira injections are working at keeping RA symptoms in check. Once the opportunity presented itself, a vacation was in order. Our family usually takes vacations in mid to late August but this year we left as soon as possible.
In the past, family vacations meant lots of physical activities. Damaged joints over the past few years from RA caused me to make changes to my lifestyle. But I was determined that my issues would not impact the rest of the family. So we loaded up the van and headed off to Montana. The Rocky Mountains offer resplendent beauty with snow-capped peaks, large open valleys, and lots of sunshine. With the rugged terrain came multiple opportunities to get outdoors.
Before leaving, a list of possible activities were made and upon arriving the list was whittled down to a manageable set that were within budget. The place we stayed in Big Sky, Montana included a pool and many bike trails. There were many short hikes to waterfalls and other panoramic views including the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Glimpses of bears, elk, and huge herds of bison were the high points of a jaunt into Yellowstone Park that ended with buffalo burgers for dinner. All of these were quite exhilarating in their own right and put enough strain on my body to let me know that I needed to slow down.
But the hallmark of the trip in terms of sheer joy and physical intensity was a three-hour white water rafting trip down the Gallatin River. I was determined that RA was not going to stop me from this experience. The first reminder of RA was the medical release form where I had to check off my “medical condition.” With the help of a guide, we navigated level III-IV rapids in freezing cold water. The experience was amazing (see photos)! At the end of the trip, I could barely pull myself out of the raft. Every finger, elbow, knee and ankle let me know that it was swollen and inflamed. But the mental high made all the physical pain and stiffness worth every minute.
It’s important to know the limits RA puts on your body. But I’m determined not to let it limit life’s experiences too much.