Rheumatoid Arthritis and Football Season | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Football Season

redskin chair

From my side of the field: the game with Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms

Football fans measure time by season: the regular season, the pre-season, and the post season. We hate to acknowledge that there is a fourth season to every year: the off season. That’s the season without football.

This fall is no typical football season. This year, my own sons are finally playing on a Pop Warner “tackle” team. For years, they have dreamed of this day.

I was almost as excited as they were. Somehow, I still forget about how Rheumatoid Arthritis might affect things. I did not think once about how hard it would be to keep up.

No, they haven’t asked me to play offensive line. Only to drive to practice. And wash the uniforms at night. And stand on the sidelines. And send brownies to the concession. And produce a bi-weekly report card. No big deal, honestly.

When I parked the ‘Burban on Saturday in the far lot, we unloaded the chairs we had made such an effort to remember. It was a 10 minute walk to the closest end zone. Because of my hip pain, we stopped there and set up the chairs on the 2 yard line. From there, we could barely see that there WAS a game going on.

I really needed to sit down. But, I was really trying to see my son. So, I stood. By halftime, I was wondering whether I would be able to walk back to the car.

I have been stranded before. I have had to sit on the floor in Target for a little while. More than once. That makes malls a little scary.

Forfeit: Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms score

I didn’t want to get stranded in 98 degrees with a four year old and our travel companion, the flu. So, I did something I thought I’d never do. I left the field in the middle of a game.

By the start of the second half, my hips and knees were screaming. Why am I the only one who can hear them? I had to surrender.

I started the journey back through the crowd, past the concessions, across one parking area toward the far lot where my ‘Burban waited. The boys were not as disappointed as I was. They won’t be putting me on injured reserve. I’ll be back next week. We have waited too long for the regular season. Thank God a mom can’t get traded to another team.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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15 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Football Season

  • September 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    It’s hard how RA takes us out of the “little things” in life that everyone else takes for granted. There’s a grieving process involved with this as well.

    Have you thought about getting a handicap parking permit?

  • September 7, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Pat your sons on the back for me. This is cool, I remember when I started playing team football, it was a big deal. I miss playing football and baseball, I wasn’t good enough to play college ball. LOL

    If everyone knew what you go through and how tough you are, they would be fighting to have you on their team. No one in their right mind would trade you.

  • September 7, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    You are the owner, coach, general manager and their biggest cheerleader. They would never trade you, you hold the team together Momma!!!

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  • August 21, 2010 at 11:16 am

    My 11 yr old son plays “Pop Warner” football too. I also have trouble with where to sit because it bothers my hips, but standing hurts my knees and ankles. I’ve found a chair that is comfortable but getting to the field is difficult. Luckily, my dr helped me get a handicap placard, so I can usually get a decent parking space. My dear husband is great about helping load and unload the car. But I too have missed plays because I couldn’t follow them up and down the field. I did get a cow bell, which my son can hear and knows I’m cheering him on.

    • August 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Julie, Isn’t Pop Warner wonderful? I’m so glad to see my sons have so much fun.
      I love the cowbell idea. It would be too heavy for my hands right now, but my younger son would love it.

  • August 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I am sure you get a lot of credit with your son for just being there.

    I was at an event honoring the daughter of a dear friend. Stayed longer than I should have but still left about half way through.

    He was thrilled I got there at all!

    My RA has reinforced the importance of the quality of time over the quantity of time!

    • August 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

      True, Bill. I just want them to see I came even when I can’t stay all the way through.

  • August 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I am a 58 years old r.a. patient (diagnosed when I was a new mom at 23) and just 2 years ago finished a continuous 42 years of cheering on the sidelines for the sports players in my family. Of course I didn’t have r.a. the first 7 years when I started as a high school cheerleader, cheering for my future husband, but I did have it the next 35 years of their playing sports. One time My 18 year old daughter was playing college basketball, my 12 year old son playing middle school basketball and my 7 year old playing in a local junior pro league. I went to my doc and said what horrible pain I was having in my back and hips. we went through general questions. then just making conversation he asked about the kids. I told him that saturday the youngest had a game that morning, then we drove out of town for the afternoon game of my son’s middle school then drove on to Memphis for my daughter’s college game that night. He looks at me and says no wonder your back and hips are hurting…all of that bench sitting. I knew I could not miss the games so I found an extra padded cushion seat with a back on it that gave me great support and that really helped a lot. but still there were the bad days that the pain could make the game unbearable. I was fortunate enough because of help around the house to be able to save up my energy for game time. I would plan taking my pain meds the best I could so they would be most effective for game time. I didn’t do a lot of housework that day so I wouldn’t be up on my feet too much (which wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me). it really took a lot of planning…but i realize the younger the children, the harder that is. But the euphoria i got from watching my family picked up my spirits and helped to ease the pain. good luck with your job as cheerleader/team manager/driver/etc. otherwise known as sports mom.

    • August 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      P.S. to the above post. My youngest daughter is beginning her new coaching job in the local high school….I’m back on the bench again!

  • August 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Kelly, your strength and courage to get there and stay until your body was screaming is the most important thing. Our children love us unconditionaly, and you are making memories for there older life.
    I hope that you feel good about youself, and not disappointed that you didnt stay for the whole game.
    You are a WARRIOR that we can all take our hats off too, as your strength encourages many.

  • August 22, 2010 at 1:07 am

    You got there Kelly, you made it to see him play, that is joy and an accomplishment. You give your followers such inspiration and the feeling that we are not alone. Thank you.
    I have been fighting a weakend immune system, infection is rampant throughout my head for the last 6 weeks. Had to stop taking RA meds, RA is rearing it’s ugly head while I treat myself with antibiotics. I can’t enjoy the summer sun,larygitis set in a week ago, constant fevers and I’m unable to talk,lay down without gaging, am in chronic head pain due to deep sinus infections, ear infections and now eye infection.I scare myself looking in the mirror! It’s so hard to even explain this to anyone, had to give the phone to my husband today since the pharmacy couldn’t understand me. I am canceling my life at this moment,I’m in fighting mode while being exhausted at the same time. When will those closest people to me get tired of hearing my complaints,or even understand them??? Is it a matter of time or am I blessed with loved ones who understand, I don’t know yet.

  • August 9, 2012 at 1:19 am

    My son plays high school football His dad takes him to all the things I can’t.I get so excited and emotional when I see him play its good for both of us.But its really cold toward the end of the season I try to stay warm but thereb are times I just can’t go but he knows I would be there if I could. Having a mom with ra has given him a soft sweet heart and compassion for others.I look work at his games because I use the wheelchair to get to th stands then climb the stands as high as I can and as high as my husband convinces me I can.weird looks everywhere from everyone.It is worth it till its time to go down I panic an know I will do the same thing next week.because I LOVE HIM

    • August 9, 2012 at 10:57 am

      thank you so much for sharing that Anne. I feel the same way. My son is going to play this yr and I will do anything to be there as much as possible to watch. My sons have learned that same tenderness you mention.

  • August 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Hi All,
    Janette, I’ve been sick for the last month with first a cold and then a sinus infection. Got antibiotics just in time so had to go without my infusion and then my hands swelled and my pain went up. Finally got an infusion today.
    I will say a prayer for your healing.


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