1. Stress is a real biological thing. Really! It is not kinda biological, it is at its most basic process a biological process that affects the whole body and every system in the body. It also interacts with my RA/AS. Different stresses also seem to cause somewhat different reactions in my body. Intense grief lit up every joint in my body, financial stress went to the latest active joints, stress from physically over-doing it goes into my spine, ankles, and knuckles.
2. I am not Wonder Woman. Nope, not at all. My body can no longer handle the forces of lifting, twisting, carrying, running, bouncing... I also can't do it all, all the time. I actually have to plan down time! I do have to rest. Although I am not Wonder Woman, I do identify with the comic book characters of the X-men, well, at least I identify with being a mutant. My body is changing, some of my joints, especially in my spine, are turning to bone. It is a protective mechanism, to turn to inflamed joints to stone. It is my mutation.
3. Pain is complicated. This should have been obvious before RA/AS, but it wasn't. I only knew if I hurt or didn't hurt. I never paid attention to the joint, whether it was hot to the touch. I didn't care about describing pain, if it was achy, gnawing, or electrical. I never knew that pain came with stigma, that people don't want to see it, hear about it, or talk about it. That it is an invisible illness. I didn't know my field could also genuinely help people with pain.
4. Inflammation can be good for you, but inflammation due to autoimmunity is the wrong target of inflammation. I always treated inflammation of an injury right away. I never understood how inflammation is the body's response for healing. I always treated it like a symptom to eradicate. I also didn't know the difference between healthy inflammation that is healing versus unhealthy inflammation that is trying to "clean-up" the wrong target.
5. I had no idea how much control of my own biology I could have, and also, what remains out of my control. Even after I understood my condition and the basics of pain management, I had no idea of all the ways we can train ourselves to have control, or at least influence, basic systems in our body. As I geeked-out over the depth and breadth of studies showing how we can control different biological systems, I also grew in my appreciation over what we don't know and what we can't control.