It’s No One’s Fault
Sometimes we become obsessed with understanding who’s to blame—who is responsible for this situation? We’re uncomfortable with ambiguities or just plain not knowing. We don’t like mysteries and uncertainties. Someone is at fault.
No one knows what causes RA
But in many situations, no one is to blame. I developed rheumatoid arthritis around the age of two years old. We do not know why. Researchers have not determined what causes RA. We cannot say this genetic sequence causes it. Or being exposed to whatever environment, food, drug, and so forth. Or that a combination means greater likelihood. We have none of that.
We only have speculation. Most people with RA are women. Most develop it in adulthood. Many with juvenile cases can have severe damage, likely because we have had it so long and early treatments may not have worked. Some people (like myself) have a great amount of joint damage, but we are a rare group.
Even though I am curious about why I developed RA and why it has been so aggressive in my body, I have no answers. Sometimes I stupidly blame myself—for not exercising enough or fighting my parents when I didn’t want to take my medications (Hey, they were gross tasting!). But I was just a child. There is nothing I could have done differently. Most importantly, there is nothing my family could have done differently.
Loved ones hurt seeing you in RA pain
I know that it is hard for my loved ones to witness my pain and difficulties in life. I sometimes am blinded by my own perspective—trying to stay healthy, minimize my pain, live with my disabilities—that I neglect their pain. They can only watch and support. They wonder if there was something they could have done differently to prevent my RA (no, there wasn’t). They see my pain and feel responsibility despite it not being their fault.
Living with RA is no picnic, but I cannot imagine the emotional challenges of watching a loved one live with this illness and feel helpless to stop it. I want to help them to feel better. I want them to know that no one is to blame; no one is at fault. We all have been doing our best.
In my case, I do my best to stay as healthy as possible. Although I need help and support, I want to minimize the demands on my family. And they do their best in supporting me when I need it. Just like everyone else, all I want is to enjoy our time together as a family. Our lives may be different because of my illness, but that does not mean they are any less meaningful, delightful, and fulfilling. In a lot of ways, my RA only heightens my quality of life because I have a deep appreciation of our time together, that it is limited, and that it is a treasure to be enjoyed.
Some day we may discover the mysterious combination of events or ingredients that lead to my life with rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe it could have been avoided, but it really doesn’t matter. We didn’t know and couldn’t have known a different sequence of events. We can’t go back and change things. And I have no regrets because I would not be who I am today.
My husband says there is no telling who I would be without my RA. It has been a part of me nearly my entire life and shaped who I am. While he would never wish RA on me, he loves the unique person that I am today. I say that while I don’t enjoy my illness, it is truly a part of me and I am most happy being the person I have become.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?