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To the Friends Who Try to Understand My Disease, Even When I Don’t Understand It Myself

Naomi, the author, and four of her friends in their school gym
Naomi and her friends.

I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand my arthritis.¬†But just because I won’t, doesn’t mean we can’t try together.

1)  Thanks for trying to learn, with or without me, about my disease.

It’s hard being the only one of us with¬†juvenile arthritis¬†(JA), but knowing you guys put effort into learning what I’m¬†going through makes me feel less¬†alone.

2)¬† Thanks for asking how my doctors’ appointments go. ¬† ¬† ¬†

Whether it’s physiotherapy, occupational¬†therapy, rheumatologist appointments, MRIs or even just good ol’ checkups, I¬†can always count on you guys to ask how they went, whether¬†there were any updates, and if there’s any good or bad news.

3)  Thanks for giving me the confidence to share my story.    

When I’m worried what people will¬†think or scared that I’ll be looked at differently, you let me know I have¬†nothing to worry about and I should be proud no matter what.

¬†4)¬† Thanks for explaining it to other people when I’ve been asked¬†multiple times already that day ‚ÄĒ you might even get better at¬†explaining it than I am!

I’m proud to say you guys have¬†mastered explaining what JA is in simple terms.

5)  Thanks for reminding me to take my meds on those forgetful days and trying to pronounce/remember their names.

As many medications as I have to take,¬†there are as many days I forget to take them. I don’t know what I’d do if it¬†weren’t for you all being the little ribbon around my fingers reminding me to¬†do so.

Thanks for recognizing when I’m having a bad day and knowing just¬†how to make me feel better. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

When I’m struggling to put¬†my jacket on, tie my shoelaces, chew my food, open a door, carry a backpack and¬†walk, you never fail to make me laugh (uncontrollably sometimes), say something¬†positive, or remind me how lucky I am.

Thanks for walking with me, no matter the speed, and stopping when I need breaks.                                                      

I can be slow sometimes, but as long¬†as we’re slow together does it really matter?

8)¬† Thanks for getting excited with me when I’m having a good day!

No one really knows how huge¬†and few those days are for me except for you guys, and there’s no one I‚Äėd rather¬†share them with.

Thanks for challenging me while still knowing my limits (pretty much not letting me become a couch potato).

On those good days, and even some not so good, you push me to move, within my possible range of motion, so I can still feel normal.

10)  But most importantly, thank you for being the most amazing support system one could ask for.

I never in a million years imagined I¬†would be as lucky as I am right now to have you all there for me ‚ÄĒ¬†no matter¬†when, where and why. You have made me laugh at the best times, and have sat and¬†listened to me at the hardest. I don’t know if you realize the important role¬†you¬†played and are still playing in my experience with juvenile arthritis, but I¬†hope this helps you recognize the impact you’ve had on me.

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