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
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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