Monday, May 14, 2012

The Me I Try to Hide - Living with Arthritis

     This is me.  Nothing earth shattering or unusual.  Nothing that if you walked up to me you would  immediately think there were any serious health problems.  And that is the way I like to keep it.  I don't like to  talk a lot about my problems because everyone has their own.  I don't want to be a complainer or a whiner.  That is not the reason for this post.  I am writing this post because May is National Arthritis Awareness Month and maybe it's time to help people understand that just because they can't see something doesn't mean it's not there.  I want people to know that those who live with arthritis and other forms of chronic pain can hide a lot behind their smile.

     Arthritis Awareness Month is not necessary for arthritis sufferers.  We are aware every single day.  We know the pain, stiffness, swelling, lack of mobility, and crippling effects of this silent disease.  Awareness month is about educating the general public; friends and family members who don't understand how debilitating arthritis can be.  Many think that unless you have the type that deforms your body and is immediately visible it can't be that bad.  They couldn't be more wrong.  There are over 100 types of arthritis and many of them can be extremely painful and even deadly without causing deformity.    Once, during a really painful spell, I was told that everyone would have arthritis if they lived long enough.  In other words, that person thought I was making a big deal out of nothing.  Since then I've been very hesitant to mention my arthritis in front of anyone.  

     I am not a novice when it comes to living with chronic pain.  My life has been lived in spite of chronic pain from degenerative disc disease for over 30 years.  In that 30 years I have had 5 spine surgeries and developed at least 5 other types of arthritis besides the DDD.   That is not what I want to focus on here.  My purpose here, as I mentioned before, is education.  

     Like others who suffer from chronic pain, I have good days and bad days.  You only see me on good days.  Bad days when I can barely get out of bed because the pain is so severe, I never go out of the house.  I am not alone.  There are many like me out there who live day to day with chronic pain, trying to live as normal a life as we can.  We must learn our limitations and accept them; not always an easy task.  The one thing that is not an option is giving up.

     Depression is one of the biggest pitfalls of living with chronic pain.  Every morning when you wake up you must make a conscious decision to be happy.  Even on good days the pain can be excruciating but manageable.   When you live with pain as long as I have you learn to hide it very well.  You can fool almost anyone except those closest to you.  Sometimes you learn to hide it so well that even you begin to forget your limitations and try to do more than you should.  Big mistake.  When you over-do it you end up spending the next day in bed.

     May is Arthritis Awareness month.  If you know someone who suffers from arthritis pain, don't assume it is just your normal everyday arthritis like many get from aging.  It may be much more serious and that person may be suffering in ways you know nothing about.  Show a little understanding.

     If you would like more information on arthritis please check out the Arthritis Foundation at arthritis.org or contact your local chapter.    Many thanks to the magazine Today's Woman for doing feature articles on women who live with arthritis.  I was honored to be included in this informative series.  If you would like to read those articles you can find them at:

http://issuu.com/todayswoman.com/docs/todayswomannovember2011/38
http://issuu.com/todayswoman.com/docs/todayswomanmay2012/50
You can also see some of these strong women in the following video, also by Today's Woman
Until next time...that's my view.
Kat

27 comments:

  1. It is a horrid disease and I know from my husband's suffering that there is no relief some days. Other days he does pretty well. For him, the nights of pain are the hardest. If you can't sleep, it's difficult to start a new day with new hope.
    I'm so sorry you have to deal with this and you are a wonderful spokeswoman for your cause.
    ♥ and hugs.

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    1. Thank you so much Jo. I would love to write a book on living with chronic pain but I've never had the nerve to do it. Partly because I wouldn't know what to do with it once I wrote it. Thanks for your support. XOXO

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    2. Kat do it anyway for the rest of us please.

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    3. Thanks Marlia. Maybe I will.

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  2. I can't even pretend to understand your struggle or your strength. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for your support. Friends are what get me through!

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  3. I hear you! My husband was out of town for the weekend. I called him last night and told him not to expect to come home to a clean house! I took my grandson to Target Saturday evening to choose a toy. More standing and walking than is good for me. Then Sunday morning I fidgeted through church because my knees and hips hurt so badly. I was near tears by the time we got home from lunch. I don't think anyone who doesn't live with it can have any idea how badly it hurts ... or how much the constant pain can affect your spirits!

    Well written!

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    1. It certainly isn't any fun is it Beth?

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  4. Thanks for the information, Kat. To know is to understand, and to understand is learn. I wish you many sunshiny days.

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    1. Thank you Daphne. I hope I can help someone else by sharing my story.

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  5. I'm so glad you shared your story. There are so many burdens that people carry, often to the surprise of others. If there's one lesson to be learned, it's that we all need to give each other support and understanding--you just never know what someone else is dealing with.

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    1. You are so right Beth. I always try to give others the benefit of the doubt because you never know what they may be dealing with. I hope I can help others by sharing my story.

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  6. I hope you find a way to ease your pain.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Joyce. The support of friends helps a lot!

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  7. Before I gave in and had my knees replaced, I remember being sick to my stomach from pain just from grocery shopping. I started using a cane so people would understand I wasn't walking across the street so slowly to bug them. Since then, I've been much more open-minded when I see people using the scooters in the grocery store or parking in handicapped places when they look fine to me. Too bad it took me so many years to come to that point. On the other hand, maybe more people should have that experience.

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    1. I know what you mean. I can go into a grocery store walking perfectly normal and by the time I get out be barely able to walk.

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  8. My grandma suffered many years from arthritis. It literally ate away her joints to the point he was full of steel replacements. Hips, knees, elbows, etc. Chronic pain is no fun at all. I am sorry you have to endure it, but I imagine you are one the strongest people out there as you muddle through everyday life.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for the confidence Kathy. I try to be strong but some days it is really hard. For the most part I think I handle it pretty well.

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  9. Well as a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer I am happy to hear other people's stories. In fact as I read this blog post I suddenly realised why I have lost my groove and haven't blogged or wanted to for a while. You reminded me. The depression. It seems to have snuck up on me recently. It is something I never thought I would have to deal with and it is the biggest hidden consequence.

    Thank you for stopping by today - I knew you were busy with the A-Z. Now I need to pull myself back together. Thank you for the prompt.

    Big fat Aussie hug for you.

    M

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    1. Glad to hear from you Marlia. Depression has a way of sneaking up on us before we realize it. I still struggle with it some days. We just have to be strong and not let it get the best of us. I'm pulling for you and I know you will get your groove back. Big hug right back at ya! XOXO

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  10. Same to my grandma, it's been a long years that she suffered from arthritis, she go out for a walk and do some exercise. It helps! But my sister buy some product for the arthritis and my grandma used it, and it so amazing! its really effective pain reliever, and now my grandma, she feels so great!

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  11. My baby sister has RA and Rob lives with back issues and an impending corneal transplant. I'm the proverbial healthy horse, but I'm always searching for information that could help my loved ones. You're wonderful Kat and you do everyone a service when you speak out. Hugs -K

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    1. Kelly, if you join the arthritis foundation for just $20 a year you get a subscription to a magazine called Arthritis Today. It is a great magazine with lots of helpful articles. Part of the $20 is tax deductible as a charitable donation.

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  12. Oh I am so so sorry to hear about your surgeries and condition. I have a bad pain for a few years and never got it checked. Sometimes I feel it might be arthritis. I know a friend's daughter who is really suffering from it and she has to take injections every single day.
    There is an award for you in my blog.
    www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. Thank you so much Paps. I will certainly pick up the award and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. I hope your pain gets better soon.

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  13. Pain and depression do have an impact on each other. I'm thank ful you shared your story but sad that you've had to live with this in order to do so. I love that you point out that every day is a conscious decision to be happy. Sounds like you carry so much of the burden inside - so I am glad you were able to share at least a little with us and hope it eased it somewhat.

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    1. Thank you Amy. I am glad people understand that I didn't write this for sympathy, but merely to help people understand about others who live with chronic pain. Thank you for understanding.

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