Arthritis Story

Arthritis Story


I received an email from the Arthritis Foundation a couple of weeks ago. The letter informed me that May was Arthritis Awareness Month. I can think of many conditions or diseases that can be the subject here and many that are, in my opinion, worse than arthritis. But since this is “The Month” for whatever reason, I’ll talk about it because it’s something I understand. 


If I were to write about Arthritis Awareness it would mostly be for the children. These are the kids that suffer from Juvenile Rhuematiod Arthritis or any other auto-immune disease (there are many). These are sometimes the kids who don’t run as fast as other kids, maybe even seem to walk slowly and carefully. 

These are the kids that might not participate in a recess game at school without giving any reason other than “I don’t want to”. These might be the kids that never tell ANYONE how much pain they are in or how sick they may be feeling from the medications they take to keep the systemic disease under control. I would write for the kids. 


There are three bullet points in the letter addressed to me from the Arthritis Foundation. I will address each one. 

  1. "People don’t think arthritis is serious. You can tell them different”.                                                                        


Okay, Arthritis is a serious disease, some types more than others. Some types can cause debilitating damage to joints and/or some are systemic. Yes, a person could die. The old saying of “If the disease doesn’t kill you the treatments might” comes into play here as well. That’s where someone might die from “complications resulting from.”  Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m thankful for the treatment options. There weren’t many available when I was first diagnosed. I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis most of my life, and I’m thankful for the research that goes into finding these treatment options to help with quality of life. It is disturbing to me how the  pharmacutical money machine works, but that might have to be another blog post.


2. “People don’t realize that arthritis can lead to other serious illnesses. You can inform them.”                             


Systemic diseases can lead to many serious illnesses. Types of arthritis such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis affect multiple organs and cause a long list of symptoms. Arthritis defines around 200 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints. The most common co-morbid condition experienced with arthritis is heart disease. 


3. “People don’t realize arthritis can limited your activities. Your experiences can enlighten them”.               


Okay, I might not be the best person for this one because I don’t like the word limitations. But I can say that I used to play basketball. It was my sport.  

Because of crooked joints I can no longer play like I did. There are joint changes that have occurred in my body that make things much more difficult. I don’t say impossible because I don’t believe in that either. I can’t do a hand plank from the floor but I can forearm plank with style! I have found that with determination (I am stubborn) I have found legit modifications so I can do things with my body. And along the way, I found out that I could help other people find ways to achieve their goals too! For me, that’s a gift! That’s  making margaritas from lemons! 

My point to this particular blog post is not to make light of my physical condition but instead offer you what my mindset is.

  My mindset is simple:  I don't budge. 

I refuse the "not sure if i can" or the " I don't think I can" or the dreaded, "What if?". Instead I replace it with "How am I gonna make this happen"?  I don't always feel like I can overcome but I realize that a thought can be fleeting and a thought is  certainly not a reliable definition of the truth.   The cool thing is we can change our thoughts. Sometimes its hard. That's when I reach out to people that have what I consider uplifting perspectives or I read something that soothes my heart and calms my mind and sometimes gets me fired up! 

Don't take no for an answer. There is always a way if you believe. Putting one foot in front of the other is believing. Sometimes it's that simple.   

We all face obstacles. Some have greater challenges than others. The point here is to keep moving. Don't compare yourself with other's . Stay in it everyday. Be thankful. The fact we are breathing is a gift.  

Denise Graef