Greatest gift!

I look apon my RA as the greatest gift I have in the world as it allows me to compete in Para Equestrian sport. It makes me a tougher, stronger and more driven person because I have something extraodinary to strive for - the Rio Paralympics.

I have had RA for more than 16 years and it has affected every one of my limb joints and my spine. I have had bad doctors and good doctors. I have gone through the mill of disease modifying drugs and steriods and other anything else the doctors throw at me. I have been depressed and wondered when it was all going to end. I am coming through the other side and learning to embrace my disability and love the opportunities it has openned up for me.

A physio once said to my Mother, after she had asked what was wrong with me, 'Ah that figures, RA makes people go one of two ways, either curl up and die or they become the toughest cookies alive!' After that, I have made sure as hell I fall into the later catergory!

21 Replies

  • What a brilliant inspirational blog :-) It's great to hear such positive words and I just want to wish you well in your dream. Your family must be very proud, well done x

  • Agree Paula ....what a goal Rio ..Good Luck and thank you for such an inspirational blog...I love fighters Claire xx

  • couldnt put it better myself , paula ... great blog ... well done and good luck with rio ...

    can we all come along, to support ???? :)

  • Yay Andy fab idea ...the RA possy followers!

  • Brilliant blog Paula and I agree 100% - that's how I view being an artist too. Tilda x

  • Thanks, guys! It would be great to have a RA possy! xx

  • Fantastic blog :)

    I was a 'curl up an die' but now I'm a cookie too!

  • You go hopalngrider. I have always said i refuse to give into this damn disease come what may i will fight it. I look forward to seeing you at the rio games.xx

  • What a brilliant blog. SO chuffed for you. Roll on RIO....

  • You're an inspiration! I'm fairly new to the RA life, and it's good to see that there is more to life than the 'curl up and die' option.

  • You must keep posting on here so's we can keep up with your progress !!!!

    Well done you.

    Judi xxxxxxxxx

  • Can we not have space for people in between who muddle along, make the best of a horrible disease which is not the best thing that ever happened to them?

  • always! and count me in cathie. don't forget that just holding a cup of tea and getting it to your mouth without spilling it is an achievement at times. coping with it all can be overwhelming and it's often difficult to see any positives.

    I think that hopalong's prospects are a huge positive and we all like to share in such good news, she wasn't lessening her, yours or my pain.

    In many ways my life is not what I'd wish on anyone, but in some ways there have been unexpected good things too -

    eg I worked from the day I left school, saved up bought my house, saved up went to uni aged 33. got headhunted for teaching post in a lovely school then Wham! ra flared along with life threatening auto-immune disorder. all stop.

    Had I not been ill I would have been well and happy and comfortable well off.and I grieved for that.

    However, what I did gain were 2 great best friends who visited or left me in peace as I needed. with whom we laughed, cried, and enjoyed time that I wouldn't have had if I'd been at work.

    We'd go out on a whim and drive to the park or beach and sit in the car eating ice cream in torrential rain. we'd turn up the cd and sing. just cos we could and today I was well enough - even if it meant I worea blanket and slept the next few days!

    these two great friends were my lovely Mum and Dad! both gone now but mine for ten plus years.that the well me would have spent visiting maybe once/twice a week.

    Not my best thing, but a blessing.



  • The way I see it Cathy, is that either you allow RA to ruin your life or you fight it. Fighting it is muddling along, making the best of the situation you find yourself in. Fighting the disease means totally different things to different people at different stages of their lives. Being a tough cookie maybe getting out of bed in the morning when your joints are on fire or scaling Everest or fighting to keep going through years of pain and stiffness.

    My life is not the one I would have chosen had it not been for RA, I was a guitarist in several local Rock/Punk bands until my fingers became too weak and stiff to play. So Ra has modified my life but hey when one door closes go find another door to knock on! xx

  • Fantastic, very inspirational. Please let us know how you are getting on with your goal for the Rio paralympics. Wendy xx

  • Awesome! I'm a horse owner/rider too, though not on your scale, and it's the horses which have kept me motivated to keep moving, keep working, keep earning and planning for the future.

    I can't keep on teaching, so horses are going to figure even larger in my future life.


  • wow! thanks for sharing hopalong!

    Rio, that's something to aim for and best of luck to you.

    I had to give up riding when my ra got bad but mine wasfew and fat between, I just loved the freedom and trust.



  • oops fat = far!

  • This is Hopalongriders' mother. RA is devisating to both the patient and to those who love them. Everyone must have something to live for. Hopaongrider's horses have been and are the focus of her life. They react to her state of health both physically and mentally. They mean that she has to get out and about each morning, they can't feed themselves and I work to support them all. Rio is reachable and a realistic goal, but will not be achieved without Hopalongrider reaching deep into her reserves, again both physically and mentally. We work out what she can do, how she can do what appears to be difficult, what I and others around need to do, our motto - where that's a will, there's a way! But life is not easy. I will ask Hopalongrider to post her fb page so that you can see pictures of her and her horses. Once riding people will ask me what is wrong with her, when she is walking on her own feet you can see the concern in their faces for the pain which is obvious. If riding has been part of your life, go back and try again. A RDA centre will have suitable horses to get you started - and then you could enjoy the bond between you and the horse and the freedom to move and be liberated! I know its not for everyone, but even if just one person finds liberation in the company of a horse it would be great!

    Hopalongrider, is no more fantastic or tougher than any of you, she is just focused on the positive. You are all fantastic, even amazing, remember that. Your support here is really helping Hopalongrider and her mum!

  • Hi to you both.

    I might look rda up, I'd love to ride again.



  • You might not even need RDA, depending on how mobile you are. You might find a sensitive and sensible instructor at your local stables. At the one up the road from me, they do lessons for people with all kinds of (dis)abilities, physical and learning. I've had private lessons to help me work with what I can and cannot do, though I'm well enough to join in regular group lessons, as long as the instructor understands that if I say I can't do something, that's what I actually mean.

    My hips are often sore, and bizarre as it may seem, I find my horse very comfortable to sit on. Getting on and off can sometimes be tricky, but once I'm on, the position you sit in is very stable and comfortable.

    I agree with Hopalongrider and Hopalongridersmum - whether you've ridden before or not, if you fancy giving it a go, try it. Horses are very therapeutic and the horse world is very democratic - people judge you only on your love of horses and your enthusiasm.

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