What is it like to live without this?

My toes hurt. But unlike that residual pain from a propelled stubbing, it wouldn’t go away. I was sixteen years old and not terribly concerned about my immune system laying seige to my body.

After a couple of months of walking timidly, I was finishing a routine doctor’s appointment when the doctor asked me if there was anything else I would like to discuss. I hurriedly shook my head no, eager to leave. My mother, obstinate as she is, spoke up for me. “Her toes have been bothering her!!” I rolled my eyes, annoyed she would try to keep me longer. Three hours and many x-rays later, the doctor announced nothing appeared to be causing the pain that he could see. “However, I think it may be possible that you have Rheumatoid Arthritis.” I laughed. Outloud. That would be funny! A high school junior with arthritis? Hilarious!

A couple of weeks later, my exasperated wailing woke up my sister in the middle of the night. I couldn’t move; everything was frozen. But burning! With needles and knives digging into the flesh between my bones. I tried to get out of bed to get my mother, but I couldn’t make my legs move. With my hands curled into shapes unknown, I hurled myself onto the floor. Overdosing on ibuprofen wouldn’t make this hurt go away.

Eleven years later, I can’t remember what it was like to live without this constant companion. To run without fear of not being able to walk the next day. To strum a guitar without my wrists giving out after twenty minutes. To have a body that works with me instead of betraying everything I love. To have fully functional lungs and a liver that hasn’t been damaged by drugs that continue to haunt long after I have stopped popping them like the fatal candy they are.

What is it like to live without this? I will forever envy those who know.

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