It's time for our players to reveal their cards:
*For more than one of the women, insurance coverage proved to be a huge obstacle.* Many struggled with keeping a realistically positive attitude.
*One woman smoked cigarettes.
*Two had unsupportive families.
*One had to work two jobs.
*One woman was abandoned by her husband.
* One woman is married to a rheumatologist.
*Toss is some variables from your own situation.
Just who has the winning hand in this comparison game?
Nobody. Take the luck of some, the genes of another, and the unforeseeable circumstances of life, and you just can't reduce these people to a set of variables. We always want doctors to treat the patient and not the symptoms, right? Take a cue from that.
Do you still feel the urge to compare? Consider, if some of these women had better fiscal circumstances, or followed doctor's orders to the letter, the outcome still might have been the same: rapid disease progression in a few of them, a nursing home for one, and RA related death for two. And who is to say the seemingly healthy women won't encounter issues down the road? You could win a hand today and lose the game tomorrow.
Finally, if someone is physically ill and cannot care for themselves, they may still have the payoff of a rich and fulfilling life. We cannot judge circumstances we don't fully understand, we should not rank people outside of ourselves, no matter how envy might be temporarily clouding our judgment.
So lady luck didn't smile on the chronically ill. We can't stress out about that. We shouldn't compare ourselves to our healthy friends, to what we used to be able to do, and to the fortune or misfortune of fellow RA'ers. Save yourself the wasted energy and resulting anxiety.
So what if someone does the legwork for you? I don't much care for gambling or casinos. I don't like giving my money away. I don't like seeing despair written on the faces of others. And, I can't stand cigarette smoke. It lingers, stinks, and in some cases reminds you of where you didn't want to be. Just like when those well-intentioned buddies remind you, "RA? Isn't that what Cheryl Brown had? She's in a wheelchair and her hands are a wreck."
Let it dissipate. They don't mean anything by it. They're just trying to make sense of what you are telling them, and offering what they do know (or think they know) about RA. They're trying to make a connection to you, or do some legwork for you to be helpful. What they may or may not realize is their words will naturally lead to a comparison between you and their subject. It is an annoying effect of being chronically ill, but you know better now, right? Save your chips to invest in yourself.
You didn't choose this. RA chose you. Visiting the casino of the chronically ill falls under the "Worst Trip Ever" category. It sucks. But, it is what it is. And it is up to you how you choose to approach this. Are you going to blow all your chips on a shitty game with an uncertain payoff? Undoubtedly some of you will.
It takes each of us a different amount of time to maneuver through this casino. I know because I've been taking in the same floor show for a while now, and these dancers look real tired.
When you're done whining over your lost chips, your can-nots, your sanity; come and find me in the V.I.P. section, I'll have a comfy chair waiting with your name on it. Put your feet up, relax, and enjoy this moment of being you. By then you'll be able to share with the rookies what you've learned about your illness: in order to stay healthy, wealthy, and sane, don't play the comparison game.