Rheumatoid Arthritis and facebook and friends and facebook friends

what does a rheumatoid arthritis flare feel like
Image source: http://www.anesthesia.org/images/pain3.jpg
what does a rheumatoid arthritis flare feel like
Image source: http://www.anesthesia.org/images/pain3.jpg

Facebook friends are not REAL friends, said one of my ‘real life’ friends a few years ago.

As I’m packing for my trip I am thinking a lot about friends.  Good friends…the only kind really. Cos bad friends, well, they’re NOT friends…LOL.

I have heard that my NOT friends have been wondering how someone who lives on disability and (supposedly) has a painful debilitating illness can go on holiday alone with her two kids.  And how she can afford that.

Well, I’m cheap. I scrimp, and I save.  I don’t eat out much and I only buy essentials.  And when I get a bonus, or a freelance job, I fritter it away so it doesn’t get spent on bills.  I put my spare change in a jar and every so often I raid $10 out of my wallet and stick it in my cash stash. You would be amazed how that adds up over the course of two years!

So there’s that.  NOT friends, think what you like.  My ex-husband did not finance this trip. Although because we are still good friends, he has given me some cash to spend.  I will spend it on our kids, and he knows this.  He really wants me to spend it on *me* though.  I truly believe that.  Our marriage may have cracked under the pressure, but our friendship remains.  Not that it’s always easy!  But my ex-husband is a good friend.

Another good friend has loaned me a bag, and some bits and pieces to save me buying them.  It helps!  She has also listened to me plan and worry and doubt and wonder if I can really manage this.  And she has provided support and encouragement.  She reminds me that I am strong, when I forget.  She is priceless.

But the most amazing friend of all has just stopped by my house and dropped off a great big bag full of stick on heat wraps.  She has a pretty bad case of Rheumatoid Arthritis herself.  Plus she has Fibromyalgia.  She could really use these heat wraps herself.

They are adhesive and self-heating. They stay warm for around 8 hours.  They are for your lower back and hips.  My friend is aware that these joints have been giving me hell lately, and have been the main cause of pain and couch bound non-adventures of late.

They will give me untold relief and allow me to walk around, and keep mobile for many more hours than I could without them.  It is the most generous, helpful gift that I can remember.  I know she has had a rough year as well.  She could really use a holiday, I’m sure.  But there isn’t even a trace of envy or jealousy or bitchy snide ‘how can you afford that’.

She wants to make sure I have the best holiday possible.  She is giving up something that she says she has heaps of, and she got for free…but that isn’t the point. She is giving up something that she will need one day.  Her generosity is a very rare trait.  Her unselfishness.  Her caring.

And you know what’s funny?  I met her on facebook.

Don’t ever tell me that facebook friends aren’t real friends.  While my so-called ‘real life’ friends were making me feel guilty for not being their rent-a-crowd or looking after their kids anymore, I was getting to know a lovely lady online that I met in a facebook group for people who live with RA.  As we chatted we realised we lived in the same state.  The same city.  The same suburb!  In fact she lives about a kilometre away from me.  We share the same (wonderful) general practitioner (primary care doc?).  Our kids go to the same school.  We run into each other at the grocery store sometimes.  I wonder how many times we shuffled painfully, invisibly past each other previously, without even knowing that right there was a kindred spirit.

The irony of invisible disease.  Not only does it make us so hard to be understood and get support…it also makes it hard for us to find each other.

But find each other we did.  On facebook. We chat often.  She checks up on me when I am quiet, because she knows when I get quiet, I’m doing it tough.  I hope she knows that I think of her too, and how important her friendship has been to me.  We don’t actually see each other face to face that often.  Why? Well, y’know.  We have RA.

Friendship is not about how much time you spend in the same room.  It’s about communication, understanding, compassion…and fun.  I should also mention she has the most amazing sense of humour, and on days when I know she is in abject misery, she still posts funny anecdotes and makes a whole bunch of people laugh.  She is just awesome.

So don’t ever tell me that facebook friends are not REAL friends.


  1. You are welcome, and thank you – all at the same time. Have a wonderful trip and tell me all the details when you get home. (by computer probably, because that is just easier on our bodies). I’ve met some wonderful RA friends (Facebook friends that is!) around the globe because of this disease. I’m so glad I met you and found you so close. 🙂

  2. I hope you have a brilliant holiday, where are you going! Any chance your headed to the Gold Coast? Be strong, nasty comments can wear you down if you let them!

  3. SMDH…So does that mean that anyone that is on disability is less deserving of a vacation? Does it mean that your children should miss out on more things, because of your disability??? This is another one of those touchy subjects with me! It is as bad as the comments, “you don’t look sick”, “handicapped parking is for those that only have obvious disabilities”,,,,I know, you know all the comments too. It’s just too bad that we aren’t allowed a reprieve from RA so that we can truly be on vacation!

    Here’s to having a WONDERFUL vacation and hopefully a respite from the demon RA!!!
    From a “not REAL friend”, since I only know you from your blog…suffering the same invisible Rheumatoid Disease. 😉

  4. You know some of my very dearest and closest friends are those I’ve met online/via FB. I have 2 extremely close & long time friends who I met in real life but the rest of them are wonderful people that I got to know online, many of whom I now spend time with in real life.
    I’m also just back from a weeks holiday and while I thought I’d escaped the inevitable flare after all the extra activity, I’ve been hit with it after all! My hips hate me big time but it was worth every single second to have that precious time with my family and to see my kids so relaxed and happy. I really hope your holiday has bought you as much pleasure as mine did.

    • Thanks Gillian. My holiday was well worth it – I’m glad yours was too! I hope your flare has passed now…back to ‘normal’ life…LOL

  5. I’m so very happy you were able to get away on this vacation with your kids!! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I too get worried when you’re quiet for a while. I’m happy to know you have a friend (from FB or not) who checks on you during these times….
    I have Fibro and RA along with a host of other issues and the majority of my friends who truly understand what I’m going through are people I’ve met online – either through Facebook or support groups. And many times, they’ve proven to be more supportive and understanding than friends I see on a regular basis.
    I love your blog! I hope you don’t have too tough of a time recovering from your vacation!!
    Sending you gentle hugs, healing energy, spoons, and much love,


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