Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Impacts Lives

What kind of an impact does Rheumatoid Arthritis have on a life?

It seems impossible to explain all the impact that Rheumatoid Arthritis has. On a good day like today, I can hardly believe what I have been through myself - although I have lived it. This video bears out my memories. It has been real. And it also proves I am not alone.

Hearing the men always makes me sad. I was especially moved when the first guy said he “always has to depend on someone now.” Ouch.

Of course, the person that I identify with the most is the mum with young children. Let’s paint what she said on a billboard! “There is nothing normal in our lives anymore.”

Many tell me of family members or friends who just cannot get their minds around the ways that Rheumatoid Arthritis changes our lives. Listen to what else the lady said, “I would like them to really think that there are some people in this life that can’t even lift the duvet over themselves when they are really ill. And it’s difficult to understand that lack of strength.”

Indeed. It is difficult to imagine. And yet I remember when I could not pull up the duvet. Sometimes, I cannot take hold of anything, even a thin bed sheet. Like the girl in the video, I remember not being able to eat because of my jaw. More recently, my jaw would open, but I could not hold utensils and had to eat with my hands.

Today, someone told me the story of a lady rheumatologist. She considered herself to be extremely compassionate and gentle, suggesting exercise would help her patients. She saw herself as empathetic and kind. She thought that she understood Rheumatoid Arthritis as well or better than her patients did. And then, one day...

She got RA. And apparently, it was the severe Rheumatoid Arthritis that does not remit with treatment. She was embarrassed at her prior advice. She realized that she had been insensitive to her patients by not realizing the impact of RA on their lives.

She now realized that she had previously been insensitive. She concluded that no one can comprehend Rheumatoid Arthritis unless they have it. Sometimes, it really does seem like contracting RA is the only way.

But we can still try. I certainly tried all day again today. Several remarkable conversations left me hopeful.

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