A Personal Word About Life in the Fast Food Lane

Reactions to the invisible disability of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis can make it difficult to do things that people expect everyone to be able to do. For example, it may be impossible to reach all the way out to the window at a fast food restaurant. When even friends and neighbors cannot understand the disability caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis, how can a total stranger – a teenager likely – at the fast food window? Having an invisible disability can be awkward and embarrassing.

Frequently, however, it is much worse. The cashier sees the “short arm” as rude and haughty, and returns the attitude generously. I have had numerous fast food windows slammed in my face after the food is shoved at me because I could not reach up quickly enough and I did not appear sick or old or disabled. When I come to pick up a long list of prescriptions, I’ve had a pharmacist tell me, “At least you’re well. There are people who really are sick.”


There is a great deal of heartache which accompanies having a disease which is so misunderstood. But the RA patient is not the only victim; I have often had my five kids with me as windows are slammed shut or I am rammed with a grocery cart because I would not get out of the way fast enough. My kids will probably not forget what happened to their mom. There have been nurses and technicians, even some doctors, who have been tremendously rough physically – all because they do not understand what Rheumatoid Arthritis is like. They see the RA patient as a whining, malingering drain on the system.

Warmth in a Cold World

Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior is committed to combating the widespread ignorance about Rheumatoid Arthritis gracefully. Let us shed our tears, console one another, and march onward. We must also laugh, as loudly and as frequently as possible, at the ridiculous situations in which we find ourselves through no fault of our own. In this way, we will spread warmth where there is cold-heartedness and possibly open doors to share knowledge.

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