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What the Doctors Didn't Tell Me About Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

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I’m so used to doctor’s offices. I’ve been pricked and prodded in every place imaginable since the moment I left the womb. For a while, I was scared of them (not to mention the needle issue I had for years), but I also knew I needed them to stay remotely healthy. So when I walked (was dragged) through the door to my first rheumatologist appointment, I didn’t know what to expect. I was lifeless in appearance, behavior and attitude.

What they don’t tell you in that office once you’ve gotten your diagnosis is that being young doesn’t make you exempt from something like rheumatoid arthritis. Not only that, but they’ll also forget to mention how it can affect your growing and ever-fragile social life. Friends try to understand and accommodate, but if you say, “I don’t feel good” too often in their fragile, young adult, party-obsessed presence, they may start making excuses. “Oh, we didn’t think you’d want to go. It’s a lot of walking and dancing. I’ve got to tell you all about it, though!”

The doctors also fail to mention how those people may try to stay your friend, telling you about all the things they did without you using “lame” excuses, and eventually they may slip through your fingers like sand.

They don’t inform you that having a relationship can become more complicated. Sex, love – forget about it! Who needs it? Especially when you become prone to infections, so every time you make love to the person who rocks your world, you may have to skip a dose of your medicine. They don’t tell you this disease can make a once-pleasant moment with your partner an unfortunate and painful memory.

They won’t tell you it can take years of therapy, support, changing medications and crying your eyes out, wondering if it’s all worth it because you’re just tired of being tired and sick of being tired and tired of being sick.

The thing they will tell you is that there will be days when you’ll feel like giving up, and on those days you just need to rest. Sleep, relax, do something that makes you feel cozy and warm. Give yourself all the self-love and self-care you can muster up. Change your pajamas, throw your hair up and pull out your favorite pair of fuzzy socks. Because if you get through the day on which you felt like giving up, that’s when it’ll start getting better.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 9, 2017
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