What do you know about rheumatoid arthritis? Have you even heard of it? I can tell you that before I was diagnosed, I knew nothing about it. Well, I knew it was a thing and that that thing effected old people but that was it. So I guess that’s not nothing but it is next to nothing. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know a whole lot about it. I just know that I suffer from it and I think those that have the disease will tell you the same thing: we SUFFER from it. I also know now some of the myths and facts about rheumatoid arthritis so let’s clear some of it up!
When I tell people I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is usually this:
There is always a moment of pity because even for those that know next to nothing about rheumatoid arthritis, the name itself suggests that it’s something unpleasant. Here is where the problem lies: unless you have rheumatoid arthritis, you actually don’t realise how unpleasant it actually is. Consequently, if you don’t have it, you don’t really know the myths or facts of rheumatoid arthritis.
100 degrees of seperation
Did you know that there are over 100 types of arthritis’? Heck, neither did I! I just googled it then because I knew there was at least 2.
I think the most common misconception is that rheumatoid arthritis symptoms improve or get worse according to the weather. Well, I can tell you that for me and many others, it does not. Rain, hail or sunshine, ’tis the same. The only thing that determines whether or not symptoms are good or bad is medication. MEDS! Yes, thank goodness for meds. But there are plenty of those living with Rheumatoid Arthritis who are affected by the weather. This all depends on the climate in which you live.
The other misconception I find annoying is that people ask me where I have arthritis. The reality is, which joints hurts is all up to the RA Gods or those in possession of your voodoo doll. One minute it’s the right hand and 10 minutes later, it could be the other hand. It also depends on what you are doing too. My knees are usually ok unless I have been sitting for a long time or getting out of the car.
I think for most outsiders, the concern is if they might get it. Is it contagious? How did you get it? Well, I don’t really know how I got it. There is no definitive answer for what triggers rheumatoid arthritis. It just happens. Apparently, your chances of getting it are increased if you are a smoker or have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis but guess what? I tick neither or those boxes so am I lucky or am I lucky??
Here’s a word of advice….
Don’t you love it when everyone just starts to give you a tonne of advice or ask you stupid questions? I know they mean well but it’s irritating. More often than not, they don’t have rheumatoid arthritis so the advice has no merit. It reminds me of when I was struggling with breastfeeding my eldest child. The maternal health nurse kept persisting I continue and put so much pressure on me. It wasn’t until months later that I found out that she didn’t even have kids! I was so angry that she had given me textbook advice and not advice based on personal experience. One of the reasons I want to set the record straight regarding the myths and facts of rheumatoid arthritis. Anyhow, back to the rolodex of rheumatoid arthritis advice or just dumb questions… here is my top ten:
- Does it hurt?- No, it tickles.
- I have arthritis too! – Yes, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. What’s the difference? – Nevermind.
- My dad has arthritis and he swears by Olive leaf extract (my naturopath does not)
- Try emu oil (Not only is the look and texture gross but it’s unethical in my opinion)
- K. Kardashian (I can’t remember which Kardashian) suggests celery juice! – I couldn’t think of anyone worse to take medical advice from.
- You don’t look sick – You don’t look stupid.
- Give acupuncture a go (This did actually provide me with relief but only for about 20 minutes. Voodoo does work!)
- You’re too young to have arthritis! – And yet, here I am…
- A bath will take the pain away – yes, my joints are all clean now.
- Change your diet. This is a big one and one I discuss it here.
So that’s the list of my most common unsolicited advice and annoying things people say. I’m not discounting some of the advice given, it works for some and not for others. That’s what you really need to take away from this. Everyone’s journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis is different. What works for one may not work for another. But definitely try it if it sounds sensible or better yet, ask the RA community. You can join our fantastic Rheumatoid Arthritis community here.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a pretty lonely disease. I know less than a handful of people who have it and it’s quite nice to have someone who knows what you’re up against minute after minute, hour after hour and day after day. It’s those people that give you the acknowledgement that you know comes from a common place and the advice that you need (keep taking those meds!)
That’s what The Rheuma Mill is all about! This is the place where you can share your experiences and KNOW that we know EXACTLY what you’re talking about! Hooray! Let’s raise awareness of RA and circulate the myths and facts of rheumatoid arthritis. Leave a comment below and share on The Rheuma Mill the best (and worst) advice you’ve been given.