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Monday, December 12, 2011

The Gift of Understanding

All Sunday I was burning to sit and write.  Usually when that happens, it just...happens.  I sit and I write with little to no editing.  It's easy.  Last night, I sat and couldn't get anything out.  Anything that made sense.  I didn't want it to be about whining or complaining.  I wanted it to inspire others to be more understanding.  To stop and consider for a moment where someone else is at.  Instead of clouding it with where they are at and carrying on with assumptions.  In the end, I wanted to encourage everyone reading this to go forth and put themselves in another's shoes.  Ultimately, I wanted everyone to make an effort to practise The Golden Rule.

This post would not have happened had I not read some posts and links on facebook.  One post read something like, 'do not assume to know what is going on in my home...'.  And then there were the last two posts from  One was a public service announcement ( and the other was from her blog which spoke on some misconceptions of RA.  It seems that there are many out there having some of the very same feelings I am.  Some for the same and many for different reasons.

This is supposed to be the season of giving.  What we need to give more of, has nothing to do with what is in your wallet, the bottom of your purse or the color or interest rate of the card you swipe.  Understanding is clearing something that is needed by many.  Before you sit and judge someone, put yourself in their situation for a moment.  And then ask yourself and be honest about how you would feel or react if it were you.  Those who are not honest think that [in most cases]they would deal better...I challenge that.  They should ask themselves if their arrogance comes from knowing that, indeed, they could not or would not be able to handle it half as well.  This weekend, I understood that to be very true.

RA is NOT just arthritis!  Damn it.  It does come with greater complications and concerns.  There are several degrees that can affect each person differently.  Not all drugs work for everyone.  Sometimes they don't work, at all.  I didn't just wake up one day and decide to change who I was to the core.  I got knocked on my ass.  And even at this stage, I am still functioning at a greater level that some ignorant people could ever wish. I push myself to achieve more than I physically can...almost every single day.  I am chomping at the bit for my body to be strong enough/healthy enough to keep up with my over-active brain.  I fight off fatigue, exhaustion and low-grade fevers all the time to accomplish all I want and need to.  Remember what it feels like to be home, in bed with a cold or the flu?  That run-down, achy all over feeling?  That is almost every day for me.  It is the norm.  I don't get to call in.  I push through.  I am every employers dream, in that aspect.  My body is under constant attack...from itself.  It is almost always in fight mode.  I take several drugs to suppress this.  I self-inject and soon will start infusions.  This is something almost every person you know with an autoimmune disease does.  This is something they live with every day of their lives.  I write this for them as well.

I heard it this weekend.  "I know LOTS of people who have ra and they are fine".  Fair warning, next time I hear!  Who the hell do you think you are?  'Cause here is a fact, I have RA and not many people (aside from some family and friends), really know how I am.  It is an effort, but damn it, I'll make that effort to appear as though I am perfectly..."normal".  Yeah, to those I encounter for a few short moments in a day, I am "fine" too.  I assure you, fine is far from fact.  How dare you say this to me?  As if I am not trying enough or sucking it up enough?  You say this because you really don't know me very well.  Or, because you are intimidated by the person I am despite having RA.  That's why.  Screw you.

For a few short moments, I felt weak.  Then I heard my husband calmly commenting, coming to my aid. "How long do you have to lie there before getting out of bed in the morning?/How many times have you gone to the ER for kidney/heart/lung issues related to your arthritis?/What medicines are you taking and do you have to have your organs checked for damage done to them because of these meds?"  He had others and I know he was trying to prove a point.  In this case, he was beating a dead horse.  Because there is no understanding.  And there never will be.  I have to learn to accept that. It is just hard for me to when I feel that someone thinks that I am not trying or that I am making something out of nothing.

Too often, in life, we make assumptions.  What I am asking in this season of giving, is that we all make an effort to assume a little less and try to understand a little more.  Learn a little more.  Love a little more.  Be kind.  That's what I tell my kids.  The truth is, none of us can truly ever understand what it is like to be in someone else's shoes.  But, we can try.  There is no benefit if we don't.  No lesson's learned, no respect earned. 


  1. I had a blogger come to me and say paraphrase, a good attitude has a lot to do with how your perceive your illness. Though I know she meant well, I found it offensive ON THAT DAY because I think of myself as someone who always see's the cup not 1/2 full but eager to get up and fill it all the way up for you. But that day it just hit me odd/hard if you will and I got pissed off. It's like, once again, do I need to remind you this is only a snippet of emotion on the this day, the blog post, this moment in time. Please, no pity, no pearls of wisdom, just let me vent. Just hush if your going try and tell me how I should be, or think or do.

    That said, I stepped away for a few days from my blog. I thought it through and just moved on, deleted the post that offended me and today is a new day. I hurt, it's bad, I want to scream from the pain but, instead I got up, let the dogs out, kept the house quiet so hubs could get his 3 1/2 hours sleep and fixed my computer. I will carry on throughout the day but it's never ever easy.

    Thank you for this post. It helps me to feel more human. Hugs. Tammy

  2. Tammy, Thank you very much for your comment. I am sorry you are having a rough day. Kudos to you for keeping on. I have been very fortunate in the support department, so it amazes me when something like this happens. And it is usually the same person. This time what struck me is that I was asked about ra. My answers were not all too involved, even downplayed it because I knew who I was dealing with. It still stings though. I just have to remember all those who are so supportive and remember they know me better...and that is why they offer their support so freely and lovingly.

    I appreciate your reading and sharing!

  3. I've read this post before, Rachel. And the comments, too. But it struck me differently today. We were talking yesterday at my house about just letting people - especially people with RA disease - "be" without assuming that they need to change their lives or that something about their illness is their own fault. I'm sorry that someone made Tammy feel upset so she needed to step away from her blog a few days - but it was a relief to know I'm not the only one who feels that way sometimes - just tired of talking about something that so many don't understand. Even other people with the same diagnosis don't always understand because there is such variety in the disease.