I’m still troubled by this comment.
When discussing individual accessibility issues with someone, she mentioned her osteoarthritis and how it affected her mobility. When I disclosed that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, the conversation took an interesting turn.
I thought she would be understanding, mainly because she has a severe chronic illness that accompanies her osteoarthritis. But I was so wrong. Her response was “Osteo, rhuematoid, all those arthritis diseases are the same!” Ouch. I think I reacted physically as well as emotionally. But I didn’t respond. I couldn’t decide what to say in response to what seemed like a dismissive comment.
How do we increase understanding of rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease – a systemic disease? I want no sympathy, no special attention, or no shoulder-shrugging dismissal of symptoms. This is not a my-disease-is-worse-than-your-disease competition. Anyone with an invisible chronic illness has their own struggles, as does every human being on this planet. And for all we know, other planets, too.
Perhaps when someone dismisses your symptoms so quickly, you will have the presence of mind to educate. I missed my opportunity.
Sunday, February 2, is Rheumatoid Disease Awareness Day. Spread the word.