During my life, when I felt healthier, my mother was very sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Often she was in bed or just rocking in her rocking chair. I remember the bad times and good times. One of the bad times was being dropped off with my sister when we were in our early teens. We did what we always did when we arrived at her house and ran into the kitchen to see what was in the refrigerator. Was there bread? Cheese? Crackers? Were we lucky enough to find peanut butter? Are we extremely lucky to find jelly too? She was on disability and food stamps; contrary to what others may believe it is not a living and far from it. It was never a surprise to find her in bed, which was pretty much the norm with her struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is strange; I always thought it was her bipolar medication that kept her in bed, so yes I was in total shock to realize how hard the fatigue was from the Rheumatoid Arthritis. Anyway, this day was different, she called out from the bedroom that she needed the phone. We did what we always did and helped her when she needed it. But this time I could hear her telling someone she needed help before she hung up the phone. Sometime later the paramedics showed up to help her. I could hear them commenting that she had been there for awhile because the bedding was so soiled. I can’t say at that age I completely understood, but as an adult suffering the pain she felt I can understand.
Sometimes those flashbacks of what she went through during my own pain can lead to me crying and others may not understand. I am not really depressed, I may seem a bit crazy, but I am just shocked and fear that unless others learn of how hard Rheumatoid Arthritis is more this type of suffering will continue. The need for better care for patients that live alone needs to be addressed. Healthcare for patients living alone should include phone calls and visits by nurses so they can be sure the patient gets help when they need it.
What does all this have to do with churches and communities? There were also other times around Thanksgiving and Christmas that my mother would worry some and then light up with such excitement. The worry would start before the holidays as she would be hoping that church would show up with that special basket that had a turkey or ham and all the fixings. She would wonder what fixings would be in the basket with the turkey or ham. What would she do if they did not show up? If they did, would she have stuffing? Potatoes? Corn? After Rheumatoid Arthritis hit my mother I do not remember her making it to church often, but somehow those church members always knew how to find her. Maybe she signed up even though she couldn’t walk in the door, I don’t know. I just know I will never forget her excitement or her appreciation when they showed up to give her something to help her feed her family a traditional meal during the holidays. She never expected them to show up, but she surely hoped they would and was very appreciative when they did.
So on World Arthritis Day, to those churches and community members that are strong and able, please find those patients that cannot afford that turkey, ham or fixings, please keep searching to find them. I know they really will appreciate it, even if they cannot walk through that door for church or to be that productive member of your community. Maybe find out if they are able to cook that meal, if they able to join you for dinner, or if they need you to just bring them a plate because they do not have the strength to join you for the day. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a very draining disease, the fatigue is very hard as well as the pain and stiffness, which can hit at anytime. One minute we can be fine, the next we can be in pain or wiped out.
Please hear my call out and donate to Rheumatoid Patient Foundation so they can get the changes we need to survive this hard painful and draining disease. We need this organization for patients by patients to have the funds needed to make a difference in the treatment of this disease, treatment which is far from perfect.
Rheumatoid Arthritis patients here is another song to help lift you up during your pain. Remember we need hear your voice, even if it is just by clicking Like or Retweeting on Twitter what other patients are saying with #rheum. Even that simple thing will help your voice to be heard, search engines like Google see that and it will help your voice be heard even when others are writing it out for you.