The last ten years have created serious doubts in my life. I spent a decade and a half chasing the diagnosis trail, but at twenty, never did I think my life would be turned upside down due to Rheumatoid Arthritis. I didn’t even realize what RA is! I thought it was just a more severe form of typical osteoarthritis.
Wearing knee braces for over two years, using canes (to the extent they have their own names) for over one year, having my mom fly to NYC when I didn’t answer my phone and EMS told her I had been on the floor for 48 hours, and taking chemotherapy drugs (possibly for life…or until it kills my organs) was never part of my ten year plan. It was not even part of my fifty year plan. Daily physical pain which (literally) takes one’s breath away…pain like this just doesn’t exist in your twenties. I was convinced I was being punked.
At twenty, I knew what being bullied felt like…I don’t remember a time in my life when I was not a victim of bullying, but I never understood why. Being bullied at thirty is just as painful but at least I have some clarity. Bullies are insecure and enjoy laughing about others’ issues so they don’t have to think about their own. I never thought bullies would make fun of a 30-year-old woman who needed a cane to walk down the bus aisle; that the comments and laughing from an igorant woman and her friend would make me cry; that men and women I had previously called “friends”…people I worked with on a play only weeks earlier, would avoid me like the plague when I had an RA flareup and had to use one of my canes. It has put a serious dent in my belief in human compassion. You can’t “catch” arthritis. I went to a show I had to drop out of and left during intermission when only three people, my castmembers for months, spoke to me. It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life.
At twenty, I thought I would have it all figured out: I don’t. I can only focus on my life’s light, and he is beyond amazing. I am sorry that today’s post may come across as negative…but to be totally honest about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I couldn’t have been more wrong about my disease, the age it hits, and about who sticks around.