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I’m not in contact day to day with another person who has a chronic condition like I have (at least not to my knowledge), so I don’t know what it’s like dealing with a person with an autoimmune disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis. My only point of view is from the side of the sufferer (the sufferer with RA), living with people who don’t have RA.

My post about ‘Arthritis Myths’ sparked this topic for me, when I wrote about how people assume you can’t or shouldn’t do anything anymore. It’s almost as frustrating as the pain in my joints. Most people are either one way or the other; treating me like a child who can’t cross the street without holding hands or not realizing how much pain and fatigue I feel during a major flare-up. There doesn’t seem to be too much of a happy medium, and trying to explain how you feel over and over gets old after a while.

I’m sure that every Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferer feels the same at one point or another. When people first learn that I have RA I’m treated with kid gloves, like I’m going to break into pieces if I do anything more strenuous than sitting down. But in all honesty, most of the time, the more I active I am, the better I feel. I love power walking a few miles every day, yard work and digging in the dirt is bliss for me, and when it comes to power tools, whether construction or destruction… stand back and let me play!

Being able to be independent is certainly important to me, but I’m also not a martyr. When the pain, aches and fatigue are too much for me handle without a grimace, I am usually able to put my stubbornness aside and ask for help, and most of the time help is given. I do remember one person who made a comment about how he didn’t think that Rheumatoid Arthritis hurts that much. I asked him if he’d ever been stung by a bee and he said he had. I asked him if he thought it hurt.

“Of course it did,” he answered.

“Well,” I returned. “My RA is like having bee stings in every joint. Hands, feet, knees, shoulders and elbows.”

That bee must have stung him pretty good because he never made a comment like it again.

I think I can also be honest in saying that I do get jealous of ‘normal’ people who don’t have to get up early just so they can get the stiff soreness worked out before the rest of the family wakes, who get to enjoy a glass of red wine, not have to worry whether the in coming low pressure system will set off a flare up. But I also see the blessing side of it. I’ve discovered that I can handle more than I thought, it’s made me a stronger person, and I’m much more empathetic to other people’s pain.

Living with the “normies” can be challenging, the main challenge being that they just don’t have a sweet clue as to how I am truly feeling, but it’s not their fault; they just aren’t as ‘blessed’ as I am!!

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