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The Miracle Cure!

Sharing with others about your RA

When I was a brand new mom simultaneously dealing with a post-birth RA flare and learning how to take care of my weeks-old newborn, I was lucky enough to find a great new parents support group. Every week we would go around the room and each of us was given a chance to talk about the parenting challenges we were currently facing. Some mamas talked about sleep issues they were having with their babies. Others talked about disagreeing with their husband’s different parenting styles. Some struggled over choosing whether to stay home or go back to work. After each person shared her concerns, the facilitator and the others in the group offered up any suggestions they had for facing that particular challenge.

After attending the group for a few weeks and feeling a bit more comfortable, I finally took a deep breath and opened up to the other moms about having RA and struggling with some of the more physical aspects of motherhood. Nobody had any particular suggestions for me, but they did listen to me and it felt nice to acknowledge my struggles out loud.

When the facilitated part of the group was over, the new moms would often hang around and talk to each other for a while. At the time I didn’t really know anyone with kids, so I was excited for the opportunity to make friends with some other moms. On the day I spoke up about my RA, one of the moms asked me for my phone number and email address. I was delighted! I thought she wanted to arrange a playdate or maybe go out for lunch or coffee or something.

But, as it turned out, she didn’t really want to get to know me any better. Instead, she wanted to talk about my RA. But she didn’t want to hear about my experiences or share her personal experiences with arthritis. Nope. Instead, she wanted to offer me the miracle cure.

Misconceptions about RA

“Rheumatoid arthritis,” she told me with extreme authority, “is caused by bacteria. You just have to get the bacteria out of your system. I can email you some information on something you can take to get the bacteria out of your body.”

I was flabbergasted. I had heard stories about “miracle cures” (my favorite being to eat seven gin-soaked raisins every day!) but I had never been offered one so blatantly or in person. I had zero idea how to respond. I mean, while there is actually some scientific evidence that bacteria could be linked to triggering RA, it is certainly not as simple as “just get the bacteria out of your body and then you’ll be fine for the rest of your life hooray!!” Because if there really was something so simple and foolproof, don’t you think my army of doctors would have mentioned it by now?!?

I reminded myself that I was at a support group and trying to make new friends, so I tried to be polite and keep the friendly vibe going. After taking a few deep breaths, I told her I had never heard that theory and asked how she had heard about it. She said a homeopathic doctor had told her about it. I responded that while natural remedies are certainly worth looking into, and while I have even heard of them working for some people, RA is actually quite a serious disease. I told her that even kids can get similar types of arthritis and that most people with RA require serious medications to keep their symptoms under control.

Despite my attempts to politely educate her based on fact, this woman was adamant. She responded I wouldn’t need to take dangerous medications if I just got the bacteria out of my body. She said it was a matter of me being willing to do it, and if I didn’t want to try it was my own choice to have a lifelong condition. It was at this point that I thanked her for her information – yes, for some reason I actually thanked her – and I changed the subject to how cute her daughter was.

I left the support group feeling extremely out of sorts. I felt frustrated that I hadn’t been able to do a better job educating her about the realities of life with RA. I was offended that she thought she could manage my health better than I could. And while I knew the logic was completely absurd, the implication that my struggles with RA had been some kind of “choice” on my part left me feeling pretty awful. No one chooses to have a lifelong illness.

Of course, I was also a vulnerable new mom at the time – overwhelmed, under-rested, and looking for support. I’d like to think I would do a better job standing up to someone like her today.

Have you ever been offered “the miracle cure”? How did you respond?

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

  • Cloudy
    2 years ago

    It IS very hard when someone tells you about a “miracle cure” for your condition, because it implies that the reason you haven’t been cured yet is because you are too stubborn to listen to new ideas or too weak-willed to stick to some diet.
    Since RA has so much negative impact that means that you must be either VERY stubborn or VERY weak – choosing to stick with your condition rather than be healed! It is very disrespectful to people who struggle valiantly to live well with this difficult condition.
    For the person who “knows” what you should do to be cured it’s a win-win situation though – they can feel smug because they have the answers and they don’t have to empathize with you.
    Telling people things is so much easier than listening to people.
    But much less worth-while.

  • Lakermat
    3 years ago

    It’ funny, I have had RA for twenty-nine years. I have found incredible power in the exact same theory that is looked at as a well meaning but uneducated person suggesting the power of getting rid of bacteria in your body. The antibiotic that clears this bacteria is called minocyclin and it has proved, over the years to be the only thing that ever truly offered me a “cure.” My only wish is that I had found it immediately after my diagnosis, rather than 14 years into the wretched illness. Now, even though the fire of the arthritis has burned out, the charcoaled remains that were once bones, cause me daily struggles. GET ON MINOCYCLIN EARLY!!!!

  • Norreen Clark
    5 years ago

    Right now no cure for RA. But there is no money in one either. Sorry, if there was a cure look at all the money big drug companys would loose. I believe there is something somewhere that will cure someday. All the best to you and may God be with you on the path to all that life has to offer.

  • Jenny
    5 years ago

    Mariah, your experience is so familiar to most of us, I imagine, and knowing how to handle these situations when receiving unsolicited advice from well-meaning people who have no idea what we are going thru is not always easy but will be necessary. I think you and Peggy both have great techniques! Either thank them and change the subject, or tell them up front you are confident in your physician’s advice. That is what I love about this site. The sharing of ideas as we endeavor to cope with a chronic disease and all the implications that it has in our lives. Good post!

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi Jenny ~ Thanks for your kind words! It can certainly take some trial and error to figure out how to handle these situations, but hopefully they will only get easier in the future! Best of luck to you as well!

  • Jane Burbach
    5 years ago

    Yes, I share your experience and am so sorry for your diagnosis and experience. I agree with Mariah that people are well-meaning and try to be helpful. People have told me with complete authority that various diets are key – gluten-free, vegan, juicing, etc. Others say I just need to keep moving and stay off the medications prescribed by my rheumatologist, who was kind enough to test me for food allergies, including gluten. I have no doubt that a healthy diet is important for all of us. I have an acquaintance with RA and she is vegan. She also receives biologic infusions every other week and still experiences flares. There are so many genes associated with RA that it’s impossible to make a blanket statement of what treatment will work for everyone.

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi Jane~ Your final statement sums it up! It is impossible to make a blanket statement of what treatment will work for everyone. If only the well-meaning miracle cure peddlers understood that! ~;o)

  • Peggy
    5 years ago

    I was just recently diagnosed with RA, but I am a veteran at dealing with the magical cure. My daughter has autism, and people with no knowledge have a lot of ideas about that. So I was prepared. I simply interrupt them quickly and tell them that I am not interested in alternative therapies and have chosen to entrust my care to a board certified rheumatologist. I say it politely and firmly and without apology. Apology just makes them go on longer.

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi Peggy~ I am so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. But I am glad that you can be strong and that you have a plan to combat seemingly well-meaning people who may only end up making you feel worse! Hang in there and remember that we understand what it is really like and we are here to support you!

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