RA is not your fault
If you can’t avoid RA, then RA is not your fault…
Media articles about rheumatoid disease (RD) / rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often imply that there are things people can do to either avoid getting the disease or to lower disease activity. Most of them present helpful tips to alleviate RA. From hand “exercises” to using essential oils to losing weight, you are supposed to walk a cautious stepping-stone path to the safe land of no RA. Honestly, that sounds more like Candyland than evidenced-based medicine.
But in truth there is nothing I can tell you—or even my own kids—to do to avoid getting RD / RA. Simply put, while I do believe in fighting back (duh– RA “Warrior”), I am sure that RA is not your fault.
There are basically two sides to this debate. Most people who don’t have the disease assume you can avoid it if you do the right things. This view implies that RD / RA may be your fault. Of course most people with the disease know that it snuck up from behind and attacked them like a mugger, even though they often struggle with guilt. I’m obviously on that side.
Evidence that RA is not your fault
In these ten quick examples, I’ll try to refute some of the common ways people have been blamed for either getting sick or “staying” sick.
- Living well. People have varied and changing ideas about living right or “clean.” But many people with rheumatoid disease (PRD) have eaten healthy, been physically active, and avoided health hazards like smoking. (Some of us even wear seatbelts.) Meanwhile we know many people who’ve treated their bodies badly without ever contracting a disease like RA / RD.
- Positivity. Most PRD cooperate wholeheartedly with their treatments—despite the fact that treatments are often ineffective. PRD do this with a positive attitude, hoping that each new treatment may finally be the ONE.
- My thumbs. I never misused my thumbs or did anything to create their deformity. Honestly, I really did just wake up like this. In fact, I protected my joints because I remember the disfigurements my grandfather suffered. I embraced every treatment, wore a thumb brace, and even got steroid injections in my thumbs to see if it would help straighten the contracted tendons. No success.
- My elbows. Unlike my thumbs, the elbow damage and deformity has been gradual. Last year, nothing stopped them from being stuck at 35°. Not months of physical therapy, not evening compression wraps to inhibit swelling or contraction of the arm during sleep, nor high systemic doses of steroids. At that point, I blamed myself—who can’t straighten her own arms? Others could’ve assumed I was faking my stuck arms. And then my orthopedist injected Kenalog directly into my left elbow. Several days later, my arm straightened, despite continuing problems including very frequent radial head subluxations. (I need to get the right arm done soon.)
- Babies. When children get sick with RD, it is the most obvious proof that patients are in no way to blame for this illness. No, RA is not your fault either.
You might also like to read:
- “Fine Thanks, and You?” and 5 More Stupid Things I Say
- Patient’s Rebuttal to RA Pain Catastrophizing Claims
- Science says so. I did just publish a book on the scientific evidence for the systemic nature of RD. The more reports I read, the sillier it seems to blame patients for being sick. Immunology is slowly uncovering the mechanisms of pathogenicity (disease causes).
- Disease patterns. There is a wide spectrum of patterns of disease activity and progression. And there’s an equally unpredictable range of response to treatments. If researchers can’t even tell who’ll have severe disease or who’ll respond to medication, then how can patients be at fault?
- Varying triggers. Numerous disease triggers have been explored, including physical trauma such as accidental injury. But no one can tell you just what to do or what to avoid to prevent RD. So no one can blame you for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- “Pick up your mat and walk.” Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of people go back to a job or routine if their disease is less active or they have a remission. It often reminds me of that Bible verse—people just want to get on with life, and they will do so as much as possible.
- Eventual success. I’ve also watched people suddenly get better with a medicine—including DMARDs or steroids. This would not happen if PRD were just clinging to their old ways or reveling in being sick and disabled.
Of course RA is not your fault—
And yet, some will blame me for telling you that… as if by declaring RD / RA is not your fault, I’m giving you permission to be sick. But the disease doesn’t need permission—it attacks innocent victims every day. So I’ve spent the last decade giving people encouragement and information to fight back.
For me, it’s only my best friend and my kids who understood that it wasn’t my fault I suddenly had every joint affected by RD. I want my readers to know that they at least have me. I believe in them and I’ve learned from watching them that people do not embrace illness, even if they are forced to accept it. People embrace health and participation in life—and strive to attain it as much as possible.
NOTE: This blog post was inspired by one point in Chapter 1 of my book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. That chapter discusses what RA is and what it is NOT. If you haven’t purchased the book yet, you can read that chapter with PEEK INSIDE on Amazon.
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The Kindle version of Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked will be 60% off the cover price— only $3.99 —beginning on Thanksgiving in the U.S., November 23. The sale will last through Black Friday and Cyber Monday November 27. So if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now is the time. Save 60% off the regular $9.99 price.
But I don’t have a Kindle…
No Kindle = no problem! The Kindle app is free for any device – click here. There are several advantages to the Kindle version that can be read on ANY device with a free Kindle app: You can put the book on all your devices. The app remembers what page you’re on when you switch devices. You can highlight, bookmark, and search within the text—features that are perfect for referencing info you need in the book.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT RD / RA IS NOT YOUR FAULT? SHARE BELOW.
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