alt=a man in bed with magically healed joints

What Would Change If My RA Was Suddenly Cured Tomorrow?

Last updated: August 2022

As some of you may or may not know, I authored a piece last month where I talked about a question that I get asked often. The “if you could go back and not have RA, would you?” question.

It’s one that non-chronically ill interviewers and personalities love to ask and think they are being all philosophical and deep, but as I said in my previous article, it’s a question without an answer. In fact, I think I said it’s like dividing by zero – it’s not a thing. Instead, I said they should ask, “If you could wake up tomorrow with your RA cured, how would your life change?”

Contrary to the first question, I think that’s a query worth pondering, don’t you?

What if my RA suddenly disappeared?

Picture this, you go to bed tonight, fatigued, your “usual suspect” joints hurting like they always do. You finally get to sleep for a few hours but before you know it, the morning has come. After a few seconds of consciousness, you realize something has changed. The usual suspect joints aren’t hurting or swollen. “Ha!” you say, “I must be having one of those really good days I’ve heard about!”

As you sit up and get ready for the day, though, you realize it’s more than that. None of the normal RA symptoms are present and you feel as if a great weight has been lifted. The usual suspect joints don’t even feel warm to the touch, and that’s never happened before. Suddenly, it dawns on you like Keyser Soze from the movie of the same title, your RA is cured. “…. And like that, he’s gone.”

Would it really be as great as it sounds?

Heavy stuff, right? Your RA is suddenly cured. No more fatigue, active disease, or fevers. It’s wonderful, right? Well, let’s not start throwing each other an “everything is roses and awesome” party just yet, folks.”

Remember, you had the RA for years, so that means your body has basically had the crap kicked out of it for over 2 decades. The results of that clinical ass-beating don’t just evaporate with the source of the illnesses. I mean, this is a hypothetical scenario, not a fairy tale. We can’t just… let it go… …hehe, nice.

I’d be left to deal with years of RA damage

So, your illness is cured but the years of damage remain. What do you do? Well, believe it or not, I’m kind of in this actual position right now. After 2 decades, my doctor found a combination that works. The recipe is a cup of an obscure biologic, a teaspoon of DMARDs, and a pinch of prednisone (chef’s kiss), and that concoction has essentially reduced much of my disease activity to zero.

So now what I’m left with is a damaged shell of a person like a broken-down Voltron that has to be restored to working order. This means teeth implanted, spine straightened and/or height restored, right shoulder replaced, right ankle re-re-replaced and fused, prednisone bloat lost, and, if there’s time and money, maybe get my hair back after cancer. Yeah, it’s a lot.

So what would change if I woke up cured of RA? Not much.

Yeah… it’s less of a pure win than you thought, waking up with no RA tomorrow. Now I’m not telling you this to bring you down and make you say, “well screw it then, what’s the point? I might as well just nail my bedroom door shut, cut a hole for Door Dash, and pee in a bucket in the corner for the rest of my life.” You should definitely not do that. Especially if you don’t have a bathroom, that bucket will be gross. Just go out the window (guys only, girls if you can then you deserve some sort of award).

I digress, the point is it’s important to point this out because it highlights one of the most common misconceptions people have about RA and chronic illness in general. People think that it’s a minor bother and that if it goes away, then you’re cured. In a nutshell, people just don’t get how badly RA wreaks havoc on the whole body.

RA affects the whole body

Those of you who live with RA are probably like, “duh,” so this part is more for caretakers, partners, significant others, children, teachers, cellmates, Pilates instructors, Pottery Barn associates – basically anyone who doesn’t have RA but somehow intersects with it. Rheumatoid arthritis is a “systemic” illness, and that means every single system in the body, just about, is affected in some way by the illness.

Joints (obviously), skin, hair, nails, blood vessels, heart, all the senses, even smision (smelling things you see), your mental state, and last, but definitely not least, your private parts. Yes, it can even affect the family jewels and jewelettes. The worst part of it all? You can look great and wake up feeling like 1 million bucks and give no hint whatsoever that you are ill at first glance. Hmmmm, kind of like if you woke up magically cured of RA, but your body can still be held together on the inside by chewing gum and paperclips. Really, really, crappy paper clips from the dollar store that can’t even clip loose leaf together.

Life without RA would not be all sunshine and rainbows

So, what is the point of this long and meandering post? This ramshackle journey of words we’ve been on? This nonsensical literary excursion into the hypothetical? Well, I think it was to illustrate just how serious an illness rheumatoid arthritis is, and how much chronic illness affects lives and continues to, even long after the disease is no longer active. Spread the word. Talk soon.

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