Subsequently, growing up with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis has turned me into an actor of sorts. Not like the acting of sorts I did in 4-5th grade Chegwin Drama Club, either. More real, at the same time a facade. The ability to feign being “okay” and “healthy” has been distilled in my bones.
Not that I am fake or not myself to people, sometimes the message just is not the full truth, merely half truth, like I am an Aes Sedai in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time Series. Having had a wonderful, loving family and friends in my childhood, I was always myself around them. They understood me and the trivialities I had to overcome, to best. However, the people in passing are sometimes different. They ask if I am okay when I tell them I have arthritis. I respond with a yes because, yes, I am “okay” and “doing good” in a sense. The fact that pain has become a “normal” attribution to my body is of relevance. I am “okay” when in my normal amounts of my usual pains. People ask if it hurts to cycle and my response dances along the lines of truth. “It’s a lot easier than walking” I usually say. Making it seem like I am doing good and cycling isn’t very hard for me. That, is a false barrier.
The deeper truth, cycling is still hard and painful. grueling ascents, headwinds, constant revolutions of pedals all with bones that are slow in degredation, with my hip in need of replacement. My ankles crack and groan under stress. My left knee has pins and needles if I lose focus and use my thigh muscles to much, putting pressure on my knee joints. Consequently, also putting a bit of added stress on my hip. After a day of cycling, I can’t fully stretch my sore muscles in my left leg due to my hip pain. It all adds up to being hard. Cycling isn’t really the easy task I play it off to be. It is still a lot easier than walking, though.
With all of that being said, I am still an optimist. Pain is a mere addition to the lifestyle I am living and pursue. I won’t let it bring me down. I won’t let arthritis stop me and succumb to its destructive clutches. I have voluntarily put myself into the position I am in and I cannot be more happy. Yes, there is pain and sometimes a lot. But, I am accustomed to it, it is a tool to push forward. Making me put up that barrier of, “Yes, I am okay”. Because I am.
In a sense, I act like Atlas. People ask of the weight of arthritis, and I shrug my shoulders and respond with a light sense of humor and ease. If you look at the whole picture, beyond the frames, arthritis is a burden to carry, such as the world to Atlas. Living with this disease changes you. Makes you stronger. Makes you able to adapt, grow, and become a fiercesome warrior. It makes the weight of arthritis seem small in comparison to what awe inspiring things this world produces. However, at times, it the full weight can bare down on you like a mountain seemingly impossible to move. Time, strength, creativity, and adaptability show us a different route. That when faced with an unmovable mountain you climb to the top and go down the other side.
So, there is that.
I want to give a giant thanks to Andrea and Carol in Genoa! You guys were great hosts and overall fantastic as people. The local cuisine was so good I can still taste it today. Keep changing the world, I know you two will!
Thanks for reading. Feel free to make a donation to the Arthritis Foundation at the link below. Comment, share your stories or perspectives, show the world who you are. Be the impossible you’ve always wanted to be.