Friday, June 10, 2011

Makes Me Wanna Holla!

Me: "I have Rheumatoid Arthritis..." (mentioning other conditions, depending on who I talk to.)  

Others: 'Well, have you changed your diet?' 'Aren't you too young for that?!' 'I thought that was an old person disease.' 'You should lose a few pounds and you'll feel so much better.'

Me: *looking at people that are healthy and haven't a clue* Ummhumm. *smile and nod* 

(Needless to say, I was very frustrated!)

Prior to mentioning my illness to my family and friends, I was lost in a sea of outdated information; searching for information pertaining to African Americans and RA/autoimmune diseases concluded with two words: let down. The latest research was from 2008 and it spoke of the hopelessness a small group of people have.

I also made the mistake of looking for 'famous people with RA': Lucille Ball, Kathleen Turner, and a French painter (who had his first flare in the 1800's) I couldn't find anyone that looked like me.*sigh*

So now I was walking into the trenches (talking to my loved ones) with very little armor (info or insight.) *double sigh* 

Back to the stereotypical replies: If it was only a case of weight and diet, how do healthy people end up having autoimmune diseases?! If it's a matter of age, how come most autoimmune diseases develop at the ages of 20-40 (in some people, even younger.)
RA, Lupus, Graves Disease, Sjogren's Syndrome, and the hundreds of other auto immune diseases don't attack one group, race or gender. The definition of autoimmune: "abnormal functioning of the immune system that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against your own tissues." (aka, one's body is attacking itself.) I'm not implying diet doesn't play a role in cause or wellness, I just know personally too many people grab what they think is the obvious, trying to find a solution for us, rather than talking to us and understanding.

To those living with any of these illnesses, I am preaching to the choir. To the family and friends of those who aren't quite sure what we're going through, take a little time to do research and ask questions. I know for myself I'm more receptive to someone that has understanding of my conditions.

Lesson 2: I have to take the good with the bad (even the misunderstood.)


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