Forty-six million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis or a related rheumatic disease. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, limiting the activities of nearly 19 million adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Regarding the physical limitations imposed by arthritis, we asked arthritis patients to share their feelings about living with the disease and more specifically, why they hate arthritis. Their answers were introspective and offer insight into life with a disease that can be quite difficult and can interfere with aspects of daily living that some people take for granted.
I Hate Arthritis Because.....
I can no longer enjoy the things I used to enjoy. I am trying so hard to accept that and make the most of it, but I still have anger and resentment.
It changed my whole life, and not for the good. The pain never ends. I always feel tired but still try to live a somewhat normal life. I have to change how I do things or sometimes stop doing them completely....The really big question is the future. I hate to really think where this disease will take me.
I hate having arthritis because it affects those I love too. It's hard to see the disappointment and hurt in the eyes of those I love when I can't do something they want to do.
There are many times, now, that I just bow out of family outings because I know I am too fatigued and I just won't be pleasant to be around. My family gets mad at me for this, but I know that if I went and was unpleasant to be around, they would get mad at me for that. I feel like I cannot win, no matter what.
Literally, it sucks away my energy, concentration, problem solving skills, patience, time and dreams for the future. It leaves me feeling guilty because I can't do what I think I should. It leaves me too dependent on my family, and makes it hard to make new friends in person because I just don't have the time or energy to cultivate new friendships.
I hate having arthritis because of the uncertain future. Will it get worse? Will I be able to continue working? Will I have to go back on an even more invasive medication?
I hate having arthritis because I am no longer the carefree, outgoing teenager that I used to be. Being young with rheumatoid arthritis really changes your life, and while I make the best of it, there is not a day that goes by where I don't imagine how my life would be different if I was not sick.
I hate having arthritis because no one in the family understands what I am going through. They look at you like you are imagining all of your pain and tiredness. I can't stand not being able to play with my grandchildren or doing just everyday activities. The worse is at night, when you go to bed, you know you'll wake up in the morning with the same pain and nothing has changed.
I hate arthritis because it makes me insecure about myself and my limits.
The pain at its worst is so debilitating that I am not able to enjoy the blessings in my life as much as I try. My boyfriend will probably be looking for a new girlfriend.
I Accept Arthritis.....
I don't think I would say I hate having arthritis. I certainly don't love it, and it's definitely not my favorite thing about my life, but I don't hate it. It's so much a part of me, I just accept it, work hard to overcome it, and go on about my life. Everyone has something they have to struggle with, whether it's physical, mental or emotional.
I really can't say I hate having arthritis: I just don't let the arthritis define me. But because of this disease, I have met many others on the About.com Arthritis Forum experiencing the same things I have and their insight into this disease has helped me tremendously. Okay, on second thought: I hate having arthritis due to the fact that I can no longer sit and soak in a bathtub.
Can You Relate?
If you analyze the remarks carefully, you will notice that there were certain prevailing themes -- concerns that came up more than once. People living with chronic arthritis were often discouraged because:
- they had to give up many things or activities they enjoyed.
- they hated disappointing loved ones and felt guilty because of it.
- their limitations made them feel insecure.
- it is no longer possible to be carefree.
- it is difficult to make new friends and socialize.
- they fear the uncertainty of the future.
Every arthritis patient's goal is to learn how to accept a life with arthritis -- and to live the best possible life with the disease. Clearly, learning to accept arthritis is a challenge itself. Each individual arthritis patient must reach acceptance on their own terms. No one can tell you to accept arthritis or teach you how to accept arthritis. It's an evolution to get to that point -- and it feels liberating when you do.
Read the complete forum thread, I Hate Arthritis Because.... and share your feelings too.