The reason I write this post today is because my own understanding of chronic pain is more evident, and because of that, I wish I could hand so many people in my life a pair of RA glasses, so they can see how difficult it is living with rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. These days, I seem to have my fibromyalgia pain under control via medication and just eating healthier, but my rheumatoid arthritis seems to have a mind of its own. I just want to believe that if people understood RA a little better, perhaps I would not have to explain myself so much. I am 33 years old and I suffer from not one, but three invisible conditions, RA, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I can’t always hide that I suffer, but it makes it even harder when the people just don’t get what it is like having an invisible illness.
I would love to hand out RA glasses and let people see what RA does to a person and how difficult it can be living and managing your life on a daily basis, with RA, in addition to other diseases that RA brings with it, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and these are the only two I lay emphasis because they play the most impact in my life. There are other conditions that I deal with on a daily basis because of RA that I lock away, because RA is always the source. If I could give my loved ones a pair of RA glasses, this is what they would see. Extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, colds and infections several times a year, weakness, stiffness, tingling, joint locking, intolerance to cold or rainy weather, irritability and mood swings, immobility on occasion, stomach and eye issues, and the list goes one.
This is what RA sufferers are accustomed to a daily basis, along with years of misdiagnosis and believing and being told it is all in their head. Once they are diagnosed, they feel some kind of relief in knowing, but the lack of understanding of family and friends can be a tough burden to bear. It is like wearing an “A” on your chest as Hester did in the Scarlet Letter. There is so much people do not understand about RA. It is not just “arthritis” pain, stiffness and swelling.
There are so many more symptoms and conditions related to RA, that even doctors are just starting to learn about, so no fault lies in the lack of understanding. However, it is estimated that 2.1 million people in the United States alone who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. RA symptoms vary from one individual to another, but every sufferer faces the same predicament when it comes to those around them. The same misconceptions and lack of understanding exists from family, friends and the outside world.
While the ignorance faced is no one’s fault, awareness is so important. This is my world through my RA glasses and all I can do is share it. I hope that I can spread some kind of understanding to this disease, and while I cannot hand my RA glasses so others can understand, I can talk and blog about RA every opportunity I get, and I hope that I reach others who have family members that suffer and allow them to have an understanding that I strive for in my own family.