Rheumatoid Arthritis and Christmas 2012

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This year I am doing Christmas Day lunch for 12.  For the whole family.  Not my family.  My ex-husband’s family.

Why?

Well, I love Christmas, for one.

And two, my ex-husband’s father has been diagnosed with a Parkinson’s like disease.  While his symptoms are mild right now, the family is a bit shell-shocked.

Imagine:  Being diagnosed with a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease.  No cure, only treatments that *might* help.  The prospect of ending up in a wheelchair.

They are all horrified.

Oh wait…

Now, not to quibble, but I was diagnosed five years ago with a progressive, chronic, debilitating, painful disease…but I’m NOT playing ‘my disease is worse than your disease’.

I have had enough people try to play that game with me.

It’s not relevant.  It’s abhorrent.  It’s unbelievable selfish.

It’s about empathy.  And how few people really have it.  How few people are really capable of putting themselves in other people’s shoes.

How quick people are to accept, that regardless of information to the contrary (an RA diagnosis, a person on chemotherapy, a walking stick, a quiet admission of how much it hurts) that someone is fine if they are smiling.

Because it is far easier to stop at the smile than it is to understand what might behind it.

So why am I doing lunch?  Why, when I have hands that hurt so very badly, so that I can barely grip a vegetable peeler?  When I can barely lift the 3.5 kilo turkey?  When there is no way I can put together a feast for 12 in one day.  When it takes several days of planning and pacing myself?

Why?

Because I have empathy.  I understand the shell-shock.  I understand the fear.  I understand that my ex-husband’s mother does not want to cope with Christmas this year.  That she needs a break.

My ex-husband’s father is very sanguine.  Actually he is being well looked after. He is not in pain, and he is unaware of many of his symptoms. And he is 78…as he says, this disease usually takes many years to progress, and something else will likely get him first!

His sense of humour is intact.  He will do OK.

I guess my empathy came out first…and I offered to host Christmas lunch at my house before I really   thought it through.  I do that all the time.  I guess even *I* forget that I’m not the person I once was… But I also know I can do it.  I will find a way.  It is my Christmas gift to the family.

I have my chemo drugs, my corticosteroids, my nsaids and my narcotic pain relief.  And possibly most importantly of all, I have my positive attitude.  And I will get the job done!

I am looking forward to going all out and making it beautiful!  It will be a lovely day.  And I am sure that my exes family will enjoy it, and they will all appreciate it.  Some things don’t have to be said, right?

And I love Christmas!

10 COMMENTS

    • Right backatcha C! I know you’re doing it very tough this year, but I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and get the much needed support so that you can enjoy the festivities as well…despite the pain. Take care of yourself, and let your family take care of you 🙂

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  1. You have such an elligant way, if you will, in explaining the way in which you live your life. With every post, I say to myself, this is me….although, I am in denial….Dealing with ..when will this medication start working, maybe tomorrow. It’s only been 3 years of dealing with Drs…NIH, a diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome, raynods syndrome, skin cancer and now at Johns Hopkins…RA….
    Trying to be strong, I am very strong, at least I used to be. I am very lucky, I have the most wonderful husband and children, they get it…I think. I am so not the complaining type, I’d rather keep it to myself. I have learned to put myself ( my physical and emotion self) first…I just have to. Others around me think they understand, they don’t. This is going to be quit the journey , I’m glad I’ve found you….thank you!

    • Yes, Elaine it is quite a journey…and quite grab bag of diagnoses there! You *are* very strong…it takes a strong person to put themselves first when they need to. And I’m very glad that you do have a wonderful husband – that support helps a lot! And ofcourse the children – how old are they? Mine are 10 and 11 and they are great. They help me sometimes. And people such as yourself help me too – thanks for your kind words and being part of the blog. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  2. I think it does need to be said, I think your great and you deserve a wonderful Xmas with your kids, look after yourself and have a great Xmas.

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  3. I think this is the most amazing of gifts, to give so freely of yourself knowing already the impact it will have on you. Last week I was thrown totally unexpectedly into the most terrifying of flares that came on completely out of the blue and left me literally unable to move, I couldn’t even touch my own face as my elbows seized up as did my hands, quite literally every joint. I scared myself and my family & I’m now on my last day of an emergency course of prednislone. I’m half afraid to move as I can feel my elbows and neck yet again and I don’t wish to have to be carried into my in-laws tomorrow for lunch!! I hope that those around you tomorrow will also show some of that empathy & will help you out so that you too can enjoy the special day. Take care of you and have a very Merry Christmas xx Gilly

  4. I want to thank you for your blog. I recently found it through some sort of article I was reading at the time and for that I am grateful. I read your entire blog in one sitting. I am in the first phase. Cronic complaining on my part about the pain has sent me to the family doctor. I had been mentioning my hands and feet being in pain for several years, but only when I had something more serious that needed to be taken care of, 2 back surgeries and a gall bladder removal. Finally I had enough. The doctor still hasn’t found anything through the blood tests so he referred me to the RA doc. I am on Tramadol and prednisone for now. I see the doc the end of January, so I am about to begin my journey in the search. I, thank you, for writing a simple down to earth blog on your experience. I greatly appreciate it since it is so understandable and not all medical. Thank you.
    For the holidays I have my hubby and 18 year old son. My son will be cooking dinner this year. He is just learning so we shall see, with supervision and frequent reminders that something is on the stove, we should be fine. I do hope that you get the help you need from your kids. It sounds like you will have a wonderful Christmas. Please do not over do it. Have a great holiday. And thank you for what you do for all of us.

    • Hi Jennifer, I’m so sorry I didn’t response sooner – this one got lost in the Christmas rush, I’m afraid! Thankyou for your kind words. I’m so sorry that it looks like you have RA. You’re probably like me – seronegative, so there’s not much of interest in the bloodwork. They might assume that because you’re seronegative that your arthritis is not severe…but this is very wrong. I know many people who are seronegative with severe RA. So stick to your guns, and demand the treatment that you need. I hope the prednisone is helping some. And that tramadol, ofcourse. I hope the pain is manageable? I hope you’re son’s cooking adventures went well!!! Every man should now how to cook :). I had a wonderful Christmas and I very much hope you did too. Please post back and let us know how you go with your rheumatologist? And if you haven’t already, you can find me on facebook 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/arthriticchick. Take care, and all the best to you.

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