Learning Mindfulness One Surgery at a Time

  • Heather A. Rudolph
Part of the Bold Visions in Educational Research book series (BVER)


Using current research literature, I have written an autoethnography to illustrate my experience as a marginalized young adult with a chronic disease and contribute to the fields of mindfulness, disability, and autoethnography. In this narrative, I document part of my journey toward becoming more mindful. Baer and colleagues (2008) described mindfulness as “bringing one’s complete attention to the experiences occurring at the present moment, in a nonjudgmental or accepting way” (p. 27). I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis most of my life, having been diagnosed at age three; however, I was encouraged by my family to push myself to do everything I was able to do physically and mentally. With their support, I completed a bachelor’s degree in biology and was applying for teaching jobs when I fell on my knees on concrete steps. The resulting injury was exacerbated by years of chronic inflammation, which had deteriorated my knee joints so that what should have been easily brushed off resulted in a total knee replacement at age 25. The experience of helplessness was foreign to me because I had spent my life much like my “normal” sisters and friends, riding bikes and horses, climbing hills, and working. I struggled to overcome frustration, pain, and fear while becoming more mindful of others and myself.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Knee Replacement Total Knee Replacement Social Model Critical Life Event 
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© Sense Publishers 2016

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  • Heather A. Rudolph

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