arthritis ɑːˈθrʌɪtɪs/ noun
A disease causing painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
That word goes round and round and round in my head like an old record. Arthritis – it’s such a funny word to say out loud – arf-right-izzz. I think the more you say it the weirder it stars to sound. But it’s not the word that gets me, or how it sounds but it’s the fact that I’m 21 and I have this label on me. I now have to think of job prospects and who would even look twice at me once they knew I have arthritis? From my appearance, you’d never know… so why should they know?
I am super proud of the fact that I mustered up the courage and strength to work a full time job when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was hard – don’t get me wrong. I spent the night before in A&E trying to get my pain under control. Next morning I was on the job at the front counter with a massive smile on my face, pretending that my knees weren’t swollen, my hands weren’t aching and my stomach didn’t feel like it was crippling in pain. I would have done anything to be able to collapse behind the counter and cry and a couple of times I did.
I’m also not disappointed in myself that I’m not working a full time job now, but in a part time job that has me standing up all day and then driving a few hours back home. That in itself is hard and it takes me a few more days to recover than it used to.
I’m a member of a few forums on Facebook where we give each other advice and support. It’s the best thing when I’m having a rough day. But I realise that just because someone else can work a full time job doesn’t mean I have to as well. We may have the same kind of ‘label’ but it’s not the same for each person. I always said I’d never give up my full time job, but it reached the point where my health was so much more important than my pride. I’m not going to lie here: When I Snapchat throughout the week and my friends are like, “Are you still in bed? Are you not working?” I get upset. I don’t want them thinking I’m lazy, so I reply, “I’m working from home today!” Or “It’s my day off. Yay!” just so they don’t ask more questions. I now know I don’t need to be ashamed of that. I do only what my body can handle, and nothing more.
Having any form of arthritis is hard. Doing any kind of day-to-day job is hard with or without arthritis or any other illness. You’re doing great! And you should be proud. Because I’m proud of you!!