I wrote this essay for World Arthritis Day in support of my daughter and other young people who live with autoimmune arthritis. This was written prior to my sons and I being diagnosed with forms of rheumatic disease. Original title, “Why I Wore Blue.”
In support of those with autoimmune arthritis who walk the floor at night. Who struggle physically to wash their hair, scrub a bathtub, get in a car. Those who have tried everything. Twice. Sometimes it helps. Those who have tried Uncle Gravy’s Magic Bean placebo. Who use alternative medicine. Those who have a countertop and drawer full and box full of the Next. Great. Supplement. Who have wraps, heating pads, ice packs, magic shoes, exercise routines, who walk, do yoga, do Pilates, stretches from the physical therapist, and know the value of warm beach sand, even when the tide hurts too much. Those who understand Toddler Wear. Who look for totally hot orthopedic shoes to match a wedding dress. Who sometimes just say they have other plans instead of trying to get a friend to comprehend that today the body just says: No. Again. Those who compromise the fun stuff in their budget for medication, vitamins, treatments, copays, and whose living room is decorated with pain-relieving devices. Those who engage in staring matches over the need to use the handicapped stall. Who have old people tell them they can’t garden because of arthritis in one hand. Those who know that autoimmune arthritis is an assault of the entire body attacking itself. Who must compromise careers and hobbies despite the greatest will and desire. Those who more easily count the joints that are NOT involved. Those who also have tendon pain and muscular pain. Who must make tough medication choices, because this is a tough disease. Who know someone who lost the fight, while public awareness focuses on other life-threatening diseases. For those who wish to throw a chair through the TV screen during a commercial for Tylenol Arthritis. Who restrain themselves from smacking someone who asks if their arthritis is Getting Better. And for those who display a mega-watt smile. And dream of climbing mountains. Or at least an exhilarating journey to Base Camp. And those who through it all find the energy to advocate for and mentor other young people who know Arthur. For those who still exhibit joy and laughter and goofy. And climb this mountain each moment. Of each day. It was one hell of a lot easier to just put on a blue shirt.
© Written by Jody Dee – October 11, 2011