The show that never ends
‘Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2) I love this lyric. Because it reminds me of chronic disease. For me, RA and Diabetes is the show that never ends. When I was hospitalized with diabetes, I got my ticket to ‘step inside, step inside” (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2). When I was diagnosed with RA I really got to ‘come along come along’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2). So what did I find when I stepped inside? Many things, doctors, appointments, tests, abnormal findings and emotional peril. These are things that we all find each day we live with chronic disease. But I also found another (in my view) troubling thing.
Mine is worse
What I found was this habit of saying mine is worse than yours when two people meet or talk about their shared condition. When I hear that I want to cringe. Trust me I am so sorry you must endure your illness. It is no doubt bad. In fact hearing you discuss it with me I will even agree it is worse. I acknowledge your difficulty and I embrace that you have it worse. But here is the thing, what have you gained by telling me these things?
A fellow and I were talking recently and he asked how I am doing? I told him well ok, and he looked amazed. He them attempted to engage me in a game of top this symptom. He said his shoulder hurt, I said I hate when my shoulder hurts. He was despondent for a second and returned with a story about his foot hurting. I asked why it hurt and he gave me a detailed answer about his foot. He ended the foot discussion by telling me how his toes hurt. I asked about the talking to a doctor and he said he had not because he was not a worry wart. I suppose I link too many things to music but in my mind I returned to the lyric ‘come on in the show is about to start’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2). How did a friendly conversation turn into this comparison of I have it worse than you? I honestly do not know.
The Games We Play
I think it is just naturally a game we try to win. I have tired to win it in the past and no doubt I will try in the future. But to what end do we even play? If we play the one-upmanship game to impress, I want to say at the outset, you win. My issues do not compare to yours. You have it worse. I surrender. If we are playing this game to inform, consider me informed. Trust me I have been there and I believe every word you are saying. No need to explain further. I have no doubt suffered many if not all your symptoms and I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you are going through.
If we are playing this game to pass time, let’s get on to more substantial things. There are hundreds of things to talk about here at this show. We have much to do to inform others, and tell the story of RA and Diabetes. We can do that best when we focus on the task at hand.
No matter why we are telling the story, I acknowledge your pain and difficulties. But I hope you will acknowledge something for me; we have better things to do then compare which is worse. Please come join me because the real ‘show is about to start’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2). The real show is about research, funding, care, emotional health and better quality of life for those of us who are in the show. We need all the help we can get, and that my friends is the real ‘rock and roll and it is a dynamo’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2). Please let’s stop comparing the harm our conditions have done and instead come join me in the real show. We have so much to do ‘move along, move along’ (Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9 #2).
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