Today I am feeling compelled to share some thoughts on anguish. As a young person dealing with acute pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during a time when medical advancements and treatments were few, I suffered daily. Every second of every hour I was aware of this searing pain that kept me in torment. I have, and I have seen others, relate it to what appears (with my limited experience) to be that of a prisioner of war, one who is tortured randomly and unpredictably. One’s body turns on itself and attacks internally causing inflammation; hot, painful, swelling joints rigid in pain, unable to bend a knee or lift a glass of water. With dozens of joints in the body, one can feel as if they are being held prisoner, trapped and racked with pain and anguish. That was 1975.
Now, many years have passed and medical advances have been significant, of note in the area of RA. Biologics are more commonly being used and joint damage may one day become a thing of the past. We as a community of people with rheumatoid arthritis feel blessed, if not priviliged, knowing other chronic diseases have not been as fortunate.
And yet, with RA comes longstanding chronic pain. Yes, different from acute, but no less traumatic to the individual stuggling to maintain their emotional state and composure. People don’t enjoy the company of weary, tearful companions. One learns to put on a cheerful facade or remain at home where feelings of isolation and abandonment can flourish. Treatment is limited and the stigma of opioids belittling to the spirit.
What’s the answer? We need more research on non-addictive pain management treatments, more compassionate medical professionals, and people like you and me to speak out and ask for help and understanding. It’s hard when anger is so much easier and perhaps justifiable but where does that get us but back in a room alone and scared of the future?
I’m so very thankful for my dear friends and family. Hang in there with me, I need you.