Any of you who have been in a long-term relationship know that there are certain, hmm, let’s call them “debates,” that crop up again and again. One of those recurring issues between Allison and I stems from the fact that I like to drive everywhere, while she prefers to take mass transit whenever possible. To be completely honest, she’s probably got much more of a leg to stand on than I do when it comes to this tug-of-transportation-war, but relationship issues and logic don’t often collide. Continue reading “My One-Ton Security Blanket” »
Welcome to the first installment of Politically Disabled. Named so partially because I am legitimately disabled, but also because people are paying less and less attention to current events these days. In trolling the net I discovered, much to my chagrin, that there was a startling lack of knowledge about politics, a subject that should actually be close to all of our hearts. To make matters worse, I frequently came across individuals, both online and offline, who were misinformed or had entirely misinterpreted the facts of a given issue. It’s becoming an epidemic.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge soccer fan. Of course, being a soccer fan in America is a bit like being a vegetarian in the middle of Texas cattle country – everyone respects your choice but no one quite understands why you made it. Either way, we soccer fans, or football as it is properly called, experience heaven once every four years, and it is called the World Cup. This tournament, kind of like the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, and the World Series all rolled up into one, is a worldwide phenomenon where fans get so worked up that people have been killed over match results.
Invisible Disease. What an interesting turn of phrase. Invisible to whom? The patient? Loved ones? Complete strangers? The ambiguity of the expression is confusing, but it is also a perfect metaphor for what it’s like to live with a disease like rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.
When someone says “invisible disease,” most people assume it means physically imperceptible to others, and rheumatoid arthritis is right up there at the top of the list. For instance, I have experienced this myself when parking in the handicapped spots provided for those of us who have trouble walking long distances. Even at 2am, there always seems to be someone waiting to shake his or her head and make that “tsk, tsk” sound as I exit my vehicle. I imagine this is because everyone assumes all disabled people must be horribly disfigured or walk like an employee of Monty Python’s Ministry of Funny Walks. Ironically, these disapproving clucks usually come from healthy individuals who have decided to temporarily take up residence in one of the handicapped spots while a passenger runs into the pharmacy to pickup their anti-psychotic medication or a month’s salary worth of scratch off lottery tickets.
I didn’t want to write this blog. Yup, you read that right, I didn’t want to write this installment of everyone’s ridiculously-titled blog, Dan’s Du Journal. In fact, I even missed the deadline because I was so not feeling things this week. Fortunately, thanks to my generously tolerant editor, I was able to sneak in this post after all.
Please don’t think I’d ever leave you hanging, my faithful readers, without due cause. You see, lately I haven’t been feeling so well, and that really starts to take a toll on both my physical and mental health. This is a phenomenon that many of us who are ill share, but those who are not sick might not understand. Sure, the physical aspects of disease can be horrible, but it’s the mental part that sometimes becomes the most crippling.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. JRA. This is the name they gave the disease I was stricken with at the tender age of 9. Back then, doctors were only just beginning to understand the ailment and its symptoms. No one was sure what was going on inside my body, so I became a guinea pig – a receptacle for any treatments thought at the time to be effective. Gold injections, high aspirin dosages, chemotherapy and copious amounts of steroids were all tried. In fact, I have been given almost every single medication and treatment ever available for rheumatoid arthritis, and there is no doubt that these false remedies did more damage than good.
Gluten free. You cannot go anywhere these days without seeing a sign that ever-so-pretentiously informs you that the establishment you are currently frequenting provides gluten-free options, if they aren’t gluten-free altogether. Delicatessens, restaurants, supermarkets, car dealership—it seems like the whole gluten-free craze sprung up overnight and now it’s almost inescapable.
Gluten, for those who don’t know, is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. In laymen’s terms, it’s what makes bread chewy. Now, there is an autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease that can swell and irritate the small intestine when gluten is ingested, but that’s not why so much of our current world is gluten-free.
I have been writing this blog for many years now, and I have been fighting for arthritis and awareness almost my entire life. As many of you know, I have even written an autobiography about my life living with the disease. All of this is mainly an attempt to help spread the word about autoimmune illness and rheumatoid arthritis. Some days, I think it’s working, too, especially when I receive emails or messages that explain how much my blog, book, and website have helped to educate and comfort those with autoimmune ailments and even those who remain untouched by disease. It is a great pleasure to know that my work is actually having an effect on the public.
Before we dig in this week, I just wanted to address something. A few weeks back, we announced a new storytelling series called “TalkingJoints.” This new series consisted of yours truly recounting some of the crazy antics that have befallen me while dealing with different aspects of my disease, as well as observations I have made while dealing with these situations. Unfortunately, as often happens, we did not anticipate some of the technical hurdles that putting together and serving up a show of this type entailed, and when we did, there were some shortcomings that needed to be addressed. Well, I’m happy to say that we are in the process of remedying these glitches, and “TalkingJoints” will soon be released in all its hilariously entertaining glory. Thanks for being so patient, and trust me when I say that it will be worth the wait. Your reward will be all the sweeter, I promise!
As I look out the window, I see that the weather is changing again. It’s that time of year when cold turns to hot, and the cycle of growth begins again. Those of us who suffer from arthritis know this time well, as it is usually when we suffer the most. No one can say exactly why, but there is certainly no shortage of theories. Whether it’s barometric pressure affecting joints to the human body being able to actually sense the seasons, the simple fact is that we are affected more than the normal, everyday, human. Continue reading “Spring, Weather Changes, and Arthritis” »