Friday, March 22, 2013

What the pamphlets didn't teach me

Some of you are probably familiar with the story of my diagnosis. The day I met with a rheumatologist, he sat with me in a cold, clinical waiting room and read to me from a selection of pamphlets with cheesy names like, "So You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis," and "Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview." The doctor presented this literature as if I were a kindergartener circled up for storytime - facing the cartoony pictures of people in pain towards me, he hovered over each word with his pen as he read out loud.

I still have those pamphlets somewhere, and I am often tempted to dig them out. Those little handouts with their idiotic drawings did absolutely zero to prepare me for what was to come. I expected to feel pain and stiffness in the mornings. I expected to work with my doctor to find a medication that would solve all my problems and let me live "a perfectly normal, active life," as one pamphlet cheerfully promised. What I did not expect was to live in constant pain for two years, watching my life crumble into pieces as I struggled just to get through a normal day. Nobody mentioned that I would need my boyfriend to lift me out of bed, walk me to the shower, dress me, and tie my shoes. That I might not be immediately "fixed" would have been nice to know.