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The Future - Flying Cars, Robots & Worsening Degenerative Illness

The future! When most people think of the future they think of flying cars, instant teleportation travel, and smarmy always-nervous robots with European accents. It’s a place of promise, hope, and virtual reality dreams come true for all colors, creeds, genders, and religions. Well, for most people, anyway. For those of us with rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic illnesses, the future isn’t such a rosy, robot-filled virtual paradise.

The future and chronic illness

The future, at best, is bittersweet for those of us living with illness. Like those family gatherings (we used to have) where you look forward to the food but dread your third cousin and their a-little-bit-too-touchy-feely creepy hugging obsession, it isn’t a totally rosy picture.

Degenerative illnesses progress - it’s kind of right there in the name - and that means there’s more or less a one-hundred percent chance that coming down the pike is a major incident of some kind. Trust me here, I am speaking from experience.

How will my chronic illness progress?

Living with this particular Sword of Damocles over your head isn’t ideal, but one of the worst parts is that you never know which way things are going to come from.

You could have a complication from rheumatoid arthritis itself. You could have one of the multitudes of comorbidities that come along with chronic illness cause something major. Or, you could even develop an entire secondary illness to go along with your first like a rich woman with a matching pair of Shih Tzus. The chances increase the longer your chronic illness goes on which, let’s face it, is a long time or else they wouldn’t call it “chronic.” They’d just call it, “an illness,” or “you got hurt,” or “Tuesday.”

The point is you never know from what quadrant the next big thing is going to strike from, and that’s one heck of a stressor to live with. It’s one of the more difficult anxieties about the future that RA and chronic illness patients live with every day.

Loss of independence

Now, the unknown may be one of the scarier things about the future, but it’s certainly not the only concern. Another big issue among those with RA and chronic illness is the loss of independence.

Yes, losing your ability to take care of yourself. It’s one of the top concerns for those of us who have RA and are chronically ill and disabled. Yes, a top concern, based on an impromptu survey I did of two people in my house, several people on a text chain, and two cats. (We only use the most scientific methods here). Seriously, though. Independence – physical, financial, and mental, are all things that the future may and often do take away from people like me and it’s terrifying.

Physical independence

Physical independence is one of the biggies. The future may hold a time for me when I’m not able to get myself dressed any longer. Do you know how humiliating that is to have someone else dress you? I mean, I get a little taste of it when I can’t get my socks on myself and have to ask for help. Seriously - I’ll go out of my way with a stick, a paperclip, and an empty toilet paper roll to get the sock on without asking anyone for assistance. (I'll show you how you too can use three easy household items to get your socks on in another post!).

It’s mortifying! First, if you have to ask a parent or a sibling as an adult, neither of you wants to be there. You both avoid making direct eye contact for more than a second like you got caught singing and acting out show tunes in your room when you thought no one was looking. If you have to, instead, ask a significant other? Well, let’s just say there’s nothing sexier than hearing your S.O. say, “Hey baby, how’d you like to get hot and heavy with these Adidas socks? What? Huh? No, I mean help me put them on. Wait... what did YOU mean???” Bit off track, but you get the idea. It’s awful!

Financial and mental independence

Financial and mental independence are no slouches either. Many of us who have rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic illnesses and disabilities can’t work or work only a little. So let’s face it - we’re probably never going to be millionaires. Unless I can figure out how to get my course for teaching cats how to read to produce results... uh, never mind! You didn’t see that. Ha, ha, cats? Read? Silly. Also, patent-pending Feline-by-line Inc.

Anyway, yeah, never millionaires. So financial independence is a biggie and trying to save up for our future care weighs upon us. None of us want to end up having to go with Plan C (living off the goodwill and pity of a relative or friend) or even worse, Plan D (sleeping in a Chinese restaurant dumpster). So the future isn’t the rosiest of places as you can see. Unless you love the smell of rotten egg rolls.

We haven’t even covered mental issues, which affect those of us with rheumatoid arthritis and those who are chronically ill and disabled in higher proportions than “healthy” people. I can’t imagine losing the one thing that I’ve always been proud of – my mind. I won’t even make one of my trademark jokes here; thinking about becoming mentally impaired in the future is just too scary.

The future of chronic illness is a mixed bag

As you can see, the future isn’t all cyborgs, flying cars, and sneakers that lace up on their own (running out of future things, sorry) for those of us with RA and other illnesses.

The future is a mixed bag, but mostly it’s worrying about the unknown stuff. And, just like crazy cousin Eddie, we don’t know when it’ll show up. But when it does, it’s going to be a nightmare of toilet-overflowing proportions and, as Eddie says, “The shi**er’s full!” (watch Christmas Vacation this holiday season if you haven’t already; you’ll thank me). Talk soon.

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