When I tell people I have rheumatoid arthritis, I get one of three responses:
1. “I have that, too! It’s in my knee/shoulder/hand!.” (they have osteoarthritis, not RA)
2. “You are too young for arthritis.” (uh, my symptoms started at 14)
3. “You look great! You don’t look sick at all.” (I feel like I live with the flu…)
It’s exhausting trying to explain the different types of arthritis that exist and that mine is autoimmune, meaning it’s systemic and affects more than just my joints, but my skin and unfortunately, some of my organs have been involved, too. This week I had to breakdown and wear a splint b/c moving furniture caused my wrist to flare. Someone made the comment that I am always injured. In that brief moment, I wanted to explain, but do people really want to know I have a disease that is destroying my joints? That is why I wear splints intermittently, limp, and look like I haven’t slept in ages. Someone asked once if I was in an abusive relationship (after observing my swollen and red joints). I had to laugh at that one because it is my own body that is beating the crap out of itself.
Of course, I also get told about all the “cures” that I simply must try. When I tell people that I tried gluten free and I felt no different, I was told, ‘You didn’t try it long enough’. When I tried apple cider vinegar, salt water cure, elimination diet, meditation, acupuncture, yada, yada, yada….I was told I must have done it wrong, b/c it makes people feel GREAT! I’ve written previously about how expensive it is to be sick….it’s overwhelming….but it didn’t stop me for shelling out a chunk of money to try essential oils last week. If it can help me decrease fatigue, I’d be thrilled. Time will tell if it helps or not….
Why do I try all these cures?? Because I want to be healthy again. I want a normal body that can walk downstairs in the morning without feeling like my ankles are shattering. I want to travel and walk around sightseeing without intense pain. I want to be able to go to the supermarket after work and not struggle to get my groceries off the shelves. I chase the cure because I don’t want to give up the dream. It’s almost like chasing Bigfoot. A cure doesn’t exist for my disease, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping to find it someday.