Millions of peoples with chronic illnesses suffer alone because their families, friends, coworkers and even doctors don’t believe they are sick because they do not “look” sick. If you suffer from a chronic condition, you have heard it all – if you exercised more, ate healthier, lost weight, or that it is was all in your head.
Suffering from two chronic pain conditions, I wake up every morning like I have not slept. I deal with sharp stabling pains in my joints and muscles all day. It hurts to sit and it hurts to stand. It is exhausting just to go up a flight of stairs, and my brain is often foggy, so often that I can forget the same route I take everyday. I deal with headaches, stomach issues, sore joints, and even sore lymph nodes in my neck and arms. I have been told by doctors that it is all my head or that my blood work is normal. I have taken too many sick days at work and my family and my friends do not realize the extent of my conditions, and they think a vitamin will make me feel better or better shoes will my feet feel better. (If I hear “why are you limping” enough times, they won’t know where to find the bodies!)
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy says RA is his kryptonite, but my kryptonite is suffering alone. I have learned that I must accept the pain as a part my life, but I have a hard time dealing with the ignorance that comes with having Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The ignorance is hard to believe considering the statistics. There are more than 125 million Americans who suffer from at least one chronic pain condition, and 40 million of those people are required to limit daily activities as a result. Only 7 million of those people use a cane or walker, thus having a visible condition. The rest suffer invisibly and alone.
Joint and muscle pain, headaches, and other invisible symptoms that are characteristic of autoimmune disorders, are invisible to the outside world. A hundred years ago, our conditions would have been considered “hysterical” or “mad” conditions. (In other words, we would be wearing straight-jackets.) Needless to say, we have evolved in the last one hundreds years.
The first time that rheumatoid arthritis was described in a doctoral thesis was the year 1800. In 1859, the term “rheumatoid arthritis” was used for the first time. The term, however, was not officially accepted by the American Rheumatism Association (ARA) until 1941. The first official criteria for diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis did not happen until the late 1950s. So I suppose we can cut the American College of Rheumatology some slack. They have had only fifty years to
screw this up figure this out so a cure may take a bit longer (I am optimistic, what else can I do?). Anytime soon would be nice!
Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself, like today when I want my chronic pain to disappear, if just for one day. I want to be able to walk in to a grocery store, and not feel like fainting because I have stood for too long, I want to be able to carry things. I want to be able to sleep at night and to actually feel like I have slept. I want to go without meds for more than a day or two, without quickly feeling like I have been sick all my life. I want to remember what it is I was doing instead of dealing with brain fog. I just to feel better for just one day. I want to be able to sit in one place for more than a half hour without getting up to pain in my feet and knees and not being able to move my legs. I want to feel what “normal” is like. I do not want to be sick. I do not want to be doubted about how sick I am or how much pain I am in. I just want to be healthy and I am not. I just want not to feel sorry for myself for just one day!
More than anything, I just want awareness and to rid the world of ignorance about invisible and chronic pain conditions. I want to throw a pity party if I feel like it (Oh wait! That is exactly what I am doing here! Well
, its my blog and I can do what I want to!)
In the words of Mr. Krabs:
Krabs: Three cheers for feeling sorry for ourselves! Hip hip…
All (Sponge, Patrick & Squid): Hooray!