If Murphy’s Law Was A Disease, It’d Be RA

Last updated: February 2021

Well, that’s it; the title says it all. Thanks for coming, please leave your praise in the comment section below!

Ha! There’s more, of course, which you probably already knew. I would never be able to get away with posting an article consisting of just two sentences, no matter how deviously clever and accurate those sentences may be.

What is Murphy's Law?

Rheumatoid arthritis and other similar chronic illnesses are the living embodiment of poor timing and the phrase, “wrong-place, wrong-time” anthropomorphized. In other words, Murphy’s Law.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “laws,” it’s generally accepted as including the following:

  1. Everything takes longer than you think.
  2. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
  3. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

Completing tasks with RA takes longer

Everything takes longer than you think. Oh boy, if I had a dollar for every time I started a project, saying to myself something along the lines of, “Oh this should only take an hour or two...” - well, I’d have enough dollars to never have to do a project myself again.

In fact, just the other day I offered to help someone put together an exercise machine. From the instructions it looked like a simple, “tab-a goes into slot-b,” no tools needed, “hour tops,” endeavor. What I got instead was an MIT-level engineering conundrum that even the sadists who make IKEA instructions wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot INFLUURGEN. By hour three, I had reached the point where I said to myself, “I am definitely going to pay for this tomorrow.” And I did, dearly. You see, when you have an illness like RA, the longer you exert yourself, the more likely the chance that you are going to hurt. And for me, that limit is about an hour.

Should I stop or keep going?

Ironically, the last time I started a project that only lasted an hour, it was one of those “30-minute puzzle” games. By now I know my disease well enough to realize, just about down the minute, when I have reached the point of no return and have to decide if I should stop the project or keep pushing through until the end.

Resting is never an option because the second I actually stop and sit, my built-in stopwatch starts ticking away, counting down the seconds that I have left until I won’t be able to get back up and continue. It’s not very long, maybe time enough to eat a slice of pizza.

I still underestimate how long it takes to do a task

For some reason, though, no matter how many times I do this particular dance, I continually underestimate the time it is going to take to complete a project with this body, the one I apparently think is a Ferrari but is actually is a red ’94 Toyota Corolla with a busted tail-light, a green-tree freshener on the mirror, and a garbage bag taped over the rear passenger window.

When things go wrong with RA

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. This is the big one, the granddaddy of them all. There have been so many times in the 30-plus-year tenure of my illness that I have been on the losing side of the odds.

The co-morbidities that the doctors seldom see, medicine side effects so rare that it’s listed in the asterisk part of the already fine print, and medical marvels that make doctors go, “Hmmmmm… that’s interesting.” Something, by the way, you really never want to hear a physician say when talking about a thing that’s suddenly growing out of you.

Trying to be prepared ahead of time

If there’s a rare or serious side effect that can happen, it happens with RA. This occurs so often, in fact, that whenever I have to start a new medicine or get a procedure done, my doctor knows by now that he has to go over all the possible by-products, even that one about purple whiskers growing out of eyeballs that happened to one guy in the trial.

Why? Well, he doesn’t want to get a frantic call on Sunday at 3 am (because that’s when everything always happens) asking, “Doc, is this normal??” He just prepares me ahead of time now knowing that anything weird and unusual that can happen, will happen, and to me.

Delaying potential health issues

Left to themselves, things go from bad to worse. Ok, be honest: How many of you out there, like me, ignore potentially bad things for a while until they get so bad that you absolutely have to go to the ER? Just me? Really? I doubt it, but whatever. I. ALWAYS. DO. THIS. Every time I say I’m not going to wait until it gets to the emergency-hair-on-fire level before I call the doctor, and every time I wait until I’m on the brink of death and my hair is a raging inferno before I finally give in and go to the ER.

My cancer diagnosis

It happened most recently when I got lymphoma. I spent a month at home trying to put up with the tumor growing in my abdomen. Of course, I didn’t know it was a tumor at the time but, if I’m being honest, I knew something was really wrong. Finally, by the fourth week of excruciating pain at night and blood whooshing in my ears, I said to my wife at the time, “Yeah, I think we have to go to see what’s going on.”

When I got to the ER, they checked my dipstick and found that I was about three quarts low on blood. Yeah, I’m not exaggerating. They had to infuse me with five units before I even approached “normal.” My hemoglobin was somewhere around 5. Normal is 13. Dead is 3, and I still argued with the attending about admitting me. “What are you going to do here that I can’t do at home?” Turned out the answer to that question was, “Find out you have cancer.” (Took them six tries, though, but that’s a post for Blood-Cancer.net )

Murphy's Law perfectly describes RA

Well, I learned my lesson and I’ll never ignore things again... is something I probably won’t ever say. I still ignore things, even though I know Murphy’s Law explicitly states that things will go from bad to worse when left to themselves. I.E., RA in a nutshell. The longer you leave things untreated, the bigger price that you are going to end up paying.

I like to think that the person who invented Murphy’s Laws was someone with chronic illness, but even if not, it’s as if it was tailor-made for RA and illnesses like it. Maybe we should rename it Murphy’s Disease. Talk soon.

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