Erik Lindbergh: “I Hit Rock Bottom—and the Only Place to Go Was Up”

The grandson of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Erik, went from denial to acceptance of his rheumatoid arthritis.

Rita Ross

Is RA derailing your life? Follow Erik’s lead!

Remember: Your situation is unique.
Over the years, Erik says, well-meaning folks have advised him to “Do this” or “Try that” about everything from nutrition to lifestyle. However, Erik says he takes nonprofessional advice with a grain of salt. “Different things work for different people,” he says.
Your best bet: Work with your medical team to tailor a treatment that’s right for you.

Find a way to keep moving.
“It makes a huge difference, mentally and physically, for me,” Erik says. And a recent study published by the American College of Rheumatology confirms it: Patients with stable RA who exercise regularly report better functionality, less joint pain and an improved quality of life.
Your best bet: Ask your rheumatologist to recommend a physical therapist who specializes in RA and can help you create an appropriate exercise regimen.

Engage yourself creatively.
Art is a passion for Erik. He custom-designs furniture and sculpture from wood and metal and sells it online. “These projects keep me grounded and focused,” Erik says. “I’ve found that a lot of RA patients are resilient, ‘the-glass-is-half-full’ kind of people. For me, as challenging as it’s been, having RA allowed me to rebuild my life and learn to embrace it more fully.”
Your best bet: If working with your hands is too challenging—or it’s just not your thing—look into volunteering. For ideas, try Or keep your mind engaged by joining a book club. Check out ones at your library or at

April 2013