A man, arm, flame, and lighting in a peace symbol with doves on the side

I Am Not a Warrior

I refuse to be a warrior in the war on RA. Every time I go to an arthritis-related event, they honor warriors. I have arthritis, but I am not a warrior.

Refusing to be a warrior

If there is a war, I will not fight it. I will not put on green fatigues, get my official warrior tags, go to the enlistment post, sign papers, or be inducted into the war on arthritis. I was not drafted into a war on arthritis, and I certainly will not consider myself drafted into anything called a war inside my body. If I am drafted, I will claim conscientious objector status, burn my draft card, or return the letter unopened. I refuse to go to war with RA.

Why would I ever go to war with a part of my body? Goodness knows I have enough issues with diabetes. I cannot go to war with arthritis. I am engaged in living peacefully while having both arthritis and diabetes. I also want to live in peace with the rest of the world. To accomplish those twin goals, I cannot open a new war on myself; I do not have the capacity.

We are all in this together

That is not to say I am upset with those who consider themselves warriors. I cheer them on and wish them the very best. We all face this disease in different ways. Nor is it to say I won’t support the cause because I will.

We need research dollars, advocacy efforts, and less expensive medications. We need awareness and hope, and I fully support any activities, causes, or functions that provide resources to help us to understand and overcome this condition. When the local walk comes around, I will be volunteering to help raise money. I will be out at the site helping to arrange and facilitate the activities. I will ride the balloon ride once I raise enough money. But I will not wear a warrior badge or refer to myself as one.

I will not go to war with my own body

Why have I taken this contrarian point of view? RA is so ingrained in my body that it would be a war on myself if I fought against it. I have tried that in the past, and it does not work for me. I have been dealing with this genetic anomaly for over 20 years, and I am happy to say I have a kind of détente right now. I reached this détente after serious fighting. I went to war. I fought hard, yet RA persists. I cannot kill it nor believe it will ever be vanquished from my body in the foreseeable future.

Not giving up

Please do not misunderstand; I will not give up. But I sense the fact that I painted it like a war made RA impossible to live with. Instead, I am willing to give and take so I can survive. Today when I walk, I will walk because I love doing it with Mrs. Phillips, not because if I do not move, RA will gain territory. When I take the immune suppressants, I do it because if I do not, I will not be able to enjoy watching my grandson play basketball.

Not suppressing my immune system means I cannot play with Legos on the floor. But the détente agreement with my body requires me to do certain things to keep RA at bay. Those things are seeing the doctors, buying the medications, and getting my quarterly infusion; I am doing it to enjoy my life, not to defeat RA.

I cannot defeat RA

Over these past 20-plus years, I have learned that the more I fought RA, the more defeated I felt. No matter how much I was at war, I would never defeat it. Taking a military approach exhausted me. In fact, I lost my way. Was I capable of gaining ground? Was I 1st and 20? Was I penalized when I did not take my morning medicine at precisely 8:00 AM? I am tired of the football and war references. From now on, I am a pacifist in this war.

The words we use are important

Language is so important when it comes to chronic disease. I cannot fight something that is me. I can learn to live with it. I can coexist, but I can never defeat it. Nor will I allow it to defeat me. I am still able to visit the doctor when I need to, I am still able to ask for help, and I will not stop raising money to make the future better. But I will never again be at war with RA.

How is the war going from your point of view?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.