Educating People Is Exhausting
I am a firm believer in teachable moments, and helping people understand the ins and outs of rheumatoid arthritis.
But lately, I’m frustrated. I’m feeling really sick and tired of trying to educate people and trying to get them to understand the limitations that I have because of my illness(es).
It has just become an exhausting pursuit, both trying to educate those around me and trying to educate total strangers.
Educating others about RA
I think what frustrates me the most is that there is such a high learning curve. The only people who really get it are those who also have RA – and I wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy – so I think that means most people aren’t going to really understand it if they aren’t sick.
It’s also frustrating because I feel that for every twenty people I try to educate, only one or two end up understanding to a degree that is helpful.
Those are pretty terrible odds.
And I also wonder what the best way to educate people is.
How do we raise awareness about daily life with RA?
Some nuances can't be taught
Explaining RA, I don’t think I ever would have truly understood if someone would have tried to educate me about it before I got sick.
It’s the everyday ins-and-outs, the nuances of the disease that only I notice. And I don’t really think that can be taught.
Decisions that are impacted by RA
Then there are also the decisions that come around medications and treatments, and life choices that are impacted by RA.
Of course, empathy is important, and maybe getting people to understand that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – and you never truly know what is going on in a person’s life, unless you ask them – are the best lessons that come out of trying to educate people about RA.
Will people ever know what it's like to live with RA?
Because I don’t think they’ll ever truly understand the daily experience of the disease and all that goes with it.
I know some people have tried to show others what it’s like to have diabetes for a day (whether this works or not remains to be seen).
Is a one day experience enough?
But the reality is, RA is a forever thing. It’s not going away. The healthy person can experience the disease for a single day, but they get to walk away. They get to be “cured” seemingly before they even have the disease.
They don’t have to wonder what their life would be like without the disease. They don’t have to worry that their future children might be impacted by the disease. They don’t have to think about all they have had to give up or lose at the hands of RA.
So what do we hope to do with education? What point do we seek to get across?
And how best to we do this in a way that is helpful for both ourselves and others?