Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

I Like Toblerone Better Than Divorce

Hello to everyone reading this and all the ships at sea! I am Daniel P. Malito, and I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis for thirty-two years. Now, I am here at RheumatoidArthritis.net to share my wonderful, absurd, poignant, and amazing stories – the stories I’ve amassed throughout three decades of autoimmune illness. Now, since I’m *censored* years old, that means I’ve lived with this crippling illness as a child, teenager, young adult, and finally an adult (although some of my girlfriends would dispute this characterization). That’s fertile ground for unique experiences and feelings, and we are going to explore them all – some sad, some heartwarming, most funny, and all essential to understanding this cryptic and oft-misunderstood disease.

Some of you may know that this isn’t the first time I’ve written about my experiences living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I wrote for The Huffington Post for a few years, and Creaky Joints for a few years before that. In addition I also have a published autobiography called So Young: A life lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s been a long strange trip to get to where I am now, and you can read about the exploits of the past ten years or so with a quick Google search. It was everything but boring, I can assure you.

A lot left to say about RA

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “well, Daniel, if you’ve been writing about R.A. for ten years, can you possibly have anything left to say?” Well, well, well, well, well. I assure you, the last ten months have been some of the most eventful of my entire existence. I must have clubbed a bunch of baby seals in a previous life because none of what happened would be considered “good,” under the traditional definition of that word.

It all started about a year and a half ago when I began to have pains in my abdomen, which were thought by most to be caused by a bleeding ulcer. After all, I had been taking pills for RA for years, and since I’m not Keith Richards, the natural assumption was that my stomach and intestines had finally said “enough!” and simply gave up trying to keep the chemicals I swallowed on a daily basis safely contained. So, after seven months of pain and not very much sleep, I had deteriorated to the point where a hospital visit was inevitable. Still going with the bleeding ulcer diagnosis, I was infused with so many units of other people’s blood that my credit score went up. Eventually, it brought my counts up to something resembling normal, and after a seven-day stay in the hospital, I was sent home.

Unfortunately, after just three days of enjoying my own bed, my body sent me several very strongly worded emails in the form of vomit. With no choice, I hit reply all and immediately returned to the ER, where I was doubled over in pain for six hours, truly convinced my organs had fallen out of my own rear end. Long story short and several thousand scans later, it was discovered that I, in fact, was not suffering from an ulcer, but instead from a tumor, wrapped around my duodenum, caused by lymphoma, ultimately triggered by my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Probably.

An unfortunate diagnosis

After three more months in the hospital, I was finally diagnosed with aplastic large cell lymphoma, with alk+ gene and cd30 cells. It’s a long name that basically means “growth in your abdomen.” I started chemo and when I began to respond well, was sent home. Now, I thought things were starting to look up, but because of all those baby seals I clubbed in that past life I mentioned earlier, fate had something else in store. It seems that while I was in the hospital, my wife had decided that enough was enough, and it was time to pay her bill and check out of Chez Malito. All I can say about that is now, when you look up the definition of “pile on” in the dictionary, there’s just a picture of me throwing my hands up. Just a quick note, if you are thinking of getting a gift for someone who just got out of the hospital, divorce is not a great choice. Maybe get a Toblerone or something, instead.

As you can imagine, the last year or two has been quite a roller coaster ride. It was filled with so many emotions, experiences, and absurd incidents that I assure you, we will have tales to share for years to come. (Quick Preview: the Whipple procedure, apple juice bandit, “no you can’t have your RA medicine,” naked hospital roommate’s family jewels, “you are sticking that where?” and “Good news, it’s lymphoma.”) I know right? Im sure at least one of those has you going “what the heck is that about?” Well, it’s going to be quite an exciting journey and you’d be the poorer for it if you missed out.

So, those of you who knew me already now know what I’ve been up to for the past year, and those of you who didn’t, know a little more then you did. Yeah, I know, pretty much nailed my introduction if I do say so myself, but I digress. Whatever has happened, and whatever is in store for me, I am fairly sure of one thing – I’m probably indestructible. I’m sure I have a kryptonite out there somewhere, but nothin’s caught up with me yet, and I think it’s time I wear that as a badge of honor. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt, who knows. Anyway, I’m still here tellin’ my tale, and my ending hasn’t been written. So let’s enjoy the absurdity it is to live with chronic illness together, for as long as we can. It’s wonderful to be here at RheumatoidArthritis.net, and I hope to see you back again next time. Trust me, you don’t want miss out on “naked hospital roommate’s family jewels.” It’s a good one.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Dalia
    8 months ago

    Daniel,
    Thank you for reminding me that with humor we can get through anything this dang disease throws at us! My mom had chronic RA and she had to pop Darvocet like candy to get through her day. But she always did it with grace and humor. It’s always better to laugh than cry so thank you for reminding me on a bad day! Keep being the amazing warrior you are and please keep sharing your humorous stories! Thank you and gentle hugs.

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    8 months ago

    Daniel,
    Thank you for making me laugh and cry today! What a story you weave. I am sorry for your divorce. But I love your confidence! Praying for your battle with cancer.
    MS

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    @c7mv96 C7, I hope you laughed at the sad parts and cried at the funny parts! Oh wait, I mean the other way around. Thanks for your prayers and your eyeballs (on my article, that is)! Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • sandymm
    8 months ago

    Thank you, Daniel Malito. Your sense of humor helped wipe out a little of the pain of the RA today! After all you have been through, mine seems so insignificant. I, too, am so glad that we are all in this together on rheumtoidArthritis.net. I enjoyed your writing so much. Thanks!!

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    @sandymm Sandy, all of our pain is just that – our pain. Trust me, I’m sure yours is just as painful as mine, but I am glad that I was able to help you think about something else for a while and get a few laughs. After all, that’s what I do this for! Thanks. Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • StiffAndCreaky
    8 months ago

    Hi Daniel
    I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not that you have RA, battled cancer, and going through a divorce, but that you keep your sense of humor. That truly made my day. Thanks for that. Keep writing, and I will definitely keep reading.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    @stiffandcreaky Thanks so much, I will definitely keep writing. My sense of humor is sometimes all that keeps me going! Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • tckrd
    8 months ago

    Thank you so much. Unfortunately I have found somebody I can relate to with this terrible disease. I say unfortunately because just one month ago my wife told me she wanted a divorce because she had enough. Two autoimmune diseases were to much. I have both sero negative rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitus. I guess she didn’t read the large print, in the marriage vows, sickness or in health. Thank you for helping me laugh instead of cry.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    No, thank YOU so much, for making me feel like I’M not alone. 🙂 Mine must have gotten the same vows yours did and just clicked “accept,” as everyone does these days. We can laugh together. :). Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • kimberste
    8 months ago

    I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, but thank you for the laugh, and I wish you many happy adventures trying out your new credit score! I’ve had mysterious abdominal pain for years – all tests normal, whatever that means.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    @kimberste Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, and I’m happy you got a laugh. After all, that’s the point! You know, phantom pains are not that uncommon of a symptom to RA, so if they can’t find anything else wrong, it may just be that. Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Richard Faust moderator
    8 months ago

    Thanks for the infusion of humor Daniel (yes, RA treatment pun intended). As way of further introduction to your fellow contributor and my wife, Kelly Mack, thought you (and hopefully others) might be interested in this video she did on finding the humor in RA: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/video/video-finding-the-humor-in-ra/. Welcome and wishing you a great tenure here. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    8 months ago

    @richardf Thank you and Kelly for your well wishes and the informative (and funny) video. I’m sure we will become fast friends! Keep on keepin’ on, Daniel P. Malito (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Poll