Rheumatoid Arthritis is so often a misunderstood disease. Many times I am hesitant to tell people I even have this disease. The reason being that many who I do speak with about it respond with, “Oh my grandmother had arthritis.” Or even others say, “Oh, you should try such and such medicine because it is helping people to get back to a normal life and they can do the things they used to do.” Even others want to tell me about this magic cure they know about. I have heard so many other things too numerous to mention. Some so infuriating I can’t even think about them without getting upset or crying. I am sure others who have RA have heard many of these same things too.
One of the misconceptions I have heard concerning RA is that if you don’t really look “sick” you must not have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Someone once said this to me and then proceeded to tell me maybe it was all in my head. The reality is that although most people with Rheumatoid Arthritis do have misshapen or deformed joints, some do not. This can be misleading as far as disease severity and other factors of RA that plague the person who
suffers with it. Some of the other less visible things such as extreme fatigue, joint pain and a general feeling of just not being well at all are all part of living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Just because I don’t look sick does not mean I do not have RA, or is not an indicator of just how severe my disease actually is. There is an old adage that says'”you can’t
judge a book by its cover.” Well in way this fits with RA sufferers, we might look fine but what is going on inside our bodies, the stuff that can’t be seen may be quite severe.
Another misconception I have come across is that if you move to or live in a dry, arid climate you can cure Rheumatoid Arthritis. According to the NIH no particular climate has been shown to improve the symptoms for those living with RA. I have been living in a dry climate now for many years and I still have up and down days with RA. My RA certainly has not been cured. 😦
And one of the biggest misconceptions I have heard of is that you don’t need to start medication until you have really bad joint problems. This is so far from the truth of the matter. My rheumatologist said that the earlier I start the medicine the better it would be at helping to possibly prevent joint damage or slow the progression. I am certainly all for that. Sure the medicines do have their side effects and even though some side effects are pretty heavy-duty, for me the benefits out weigh the risks.
My hope is that as more and more of us speak up about RA it will gain more recognition for the serious, chronic and incurable disease that it is. And as it gains more recognition I pray that along with that recognition comes the realization that more research must be done so that a cure can be found. I long for the day when everyone gets just how life altering and serious this disease really is. For now I will keep doing my little part to help spread awareness about this chronic disease. I will fight on and not let this disease rob me of daily joys and pleasures.