I got something free with my Chinese food the other night when I went to pick up my egg rolls: advice.
It was the end of a long, hard, day. I’d pushed myself hard to be moving at all with harsh stiffness and sharp pain in over a dozen joints. We’d been out that day because Roo had a doctor’s appointment in Orlando. We met his godmother for lunch and shuffled through an antique shop. The last time we did that, Roo was three months’ old. I used the cruise control in the hour-plus drive home. But making dinner was out of the question.
Like you, I smile through pain, stiffness, and all the rest, to do as much as I possibly can. I don’t usually say anything, but sometimes there are clues that I’m in pain. That evening, I stopped at a Chinese restaurant to pick up egg rolls and soup to go with something that was in the fridge. Roo sat by some Chinese kids playing computer games.
I stood to wait for the food because my knees would rather do that than struggle to bend and then get up. Standing is hard too, but sometimes I imagine I’ll just stand until I fall over – knees still stiff. Like one of those cardboard cutout celebrities in the party store in a sudden gust of wind. Without thinking, I stood holding onto my painful wrists.
Maybe that gave me away. Or maybe it was my parking in the handicapped spot right in front of the door. But a one of the young neighborhood boys working the cash register boldly voiced his opinion: “You know if you some Vicks vaporub on, you won’t hurt any more?”
“Oh. Yeah. You mean because the menthol creates a different sensation and distracts the nerves?” I asked. (That’s the way my podiatrist described it.) “There are lots of products that can do that,” I continued, “but pain comes back in a few minutes.”
“No,” he said, “it doesn’t. If the brain stops thinking about it, it’s gone.”
It happened so fast. I didn’t have an awareness card on me, but I wanted him to know that pain in my wrists is really the least of the problem – even though it can be horrible. I said, “Well there’s more to it than that. We’d have to convince my immune system too that nothing’s wrong.”
“Just look through a pair of binoculars backwards at yourself. Your mind will see that your problem is small. And it will be gone.”
I was silent. The coworker was silent. The kids kept giggling. And the Chinese couple kept chatting with a contractor.
He was so young and sure of himself. I was in no condition to argue with him, and I don’t think it would’ve helped.
Here’s what popped into to my mind as we got in my truck: Did anyone like that ever get Rheumatoid Disease, and learn the reality the only way you can? If you did, let us hear about it. That would be sad, but maybe it would help someone else understand the truth too.
What’s that saying? My invisible disease is more real than your imaginary medical advice?
NOTE: If you need to know some facts about the reality of Rheumatoid Disease, click here for facts, busted myths, and footnotes to back them up.
- 10 Misconceptions About Chronic Disease Many People Believe
- What Would Rheumatoid Awareness Mean to You?
- Rheumatoid Symptoms Persist Despite Treatment: a Study in Juveniles (JRA / JIA)