|Welcome to the Casino of Chronic Illness!|
Are you ready to play the comparison game?
Inside the casino, you join a game at the RA poker table.
Let's watch to see who fares the best:
- The 50-year-old former beauty: bird-like and spindly, lives in a nursing home, unable to physically care for herself.
- The 20 year RA veteran: successfully manages the disease with minimal medication, pain, and a full head of hair despite years on Methotrexate.
- The 40-year-old, doubly-diagnosed RA/AS'er: has a fused spine, unable to wash her own hair.
- The 60-year-old diagnosed years ago: manages her illness with daily yoga and minimal drugs. She doesn't look sick.
- The 70-year-old musician: forced to quit her passion due to the joint damage in her hands.
When you win a round of the comparison game, you get a little boost. Hooray! You're smarter, more attractive, and have a generally less screwed up life than the lady next door. BUT, there is a hidden danger here. Relying on that high will keep you craving more; you'll never be satisfied because you don't own your situation, feel good in your own skin. Over time you become addicted to that little external validation. And eventually you will lose, (Oh shit, the lady next door doesn't need a cane to walk, and can get pregnant just by looking at a man's dongle) and when you do, it can feel devastating. Now we know better than to compare our situation to the general public. We simply can't do some of the things they can.
Another don't? Don't compare your current situation to your life pre-diagnosis. That sucks too. I know that I can't dance, roller blade, or hike anymore. That makes me sad. But I can't waste my precious time and energy focusing on the have-nots, or in this case the can-nots. What requires my undivided attention is the state that I am currently in, and how I can best care for myself. And who knows, down the road I may pick up naked salsa ice dancing. Cha, cha, cha!
One thing I know for sure about chronic illness is that it is unpredictable.
So we shouldn't compare ourselves to the "healthy," we shouldn't compare ourselves pre and post diagnosis, there is still one more kind of comparison that sucks. Do you know what it is? We'll be right back to the RA National Poker Championship after a word from our sponsors...