Tuesday, 24 May 2011

In Vogue

Here’s a sneak preview of next month’s Vogue cover. Jokes. It definitely isn’t fashionable is it? I don’t like to share pics of me having treatment usually but something struck me yesterday when for the 1000th time I got the death stares as I parked up in a disabled spot and managed to get out of the car without falling over. I could tell what they were thinking, exactly what every other narrow minded person thinks when they see a ‘disabled’ person with no visible disability, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her’, or ‘The cheek of her parking there!’, or ‘She must have borrowed someone’s blue badge how disgraceful’.
I wish I could carry a big sign around my neck to explain my condition to people so I didn’t have to put up with those looks of disgust but frankly there wouldn’t be a sign big enough that I could carry and to be perfectly honest, its none of your God Damn Business. So this is my attempt to show the reality of arthritis.
Not an old lady with a walking stick, not someone’s grandmother needing help opening a jar... but a young woman strapped up to machines in hospital. THIS is the reality of arthritis for some people. It’s not always visible unless you are in this position being fed meds through a drip. This is what we have to go through time and time again, not only in hospital with the help of kind nurses, but in our own homes as we self medicate with injections and tablets and hot and cold packs every day of our lives.
If you have ever frowned upon someone you think has no visible sign of disability using a parking space or getting special privileges in an airport (always remember the time I got wheelchair assistance to my flight and the gasps when I miraculously got out of my wheelchair and walked onto the plane), it’s OK. To be honest, it takes something like this illness to happen to you or a loved one to understand and appreciate that not all disabilities are easily seen. I suppose I have always wondered what is wrong with a person when they get ‘special privileges’ for no apparent reason, although I can’t see how parking a bit nearer to the shop door is really that much of a privilege anyway. Are these people jealous because they are so lazy they want to park 2 feet nearer to their destination? Or are they so bored with their own lives they are constantly on the lookout for someone to argue with?
Next time you see someone who claims to be ill and has a disability, disregard your cynical thoughts for a moment and remember this photo. Perhaps that person has been strapped up to machines the day before or had to take a load of tablets that morning or has had the most awful night sleep because they are in so much pain. They might not look like it now but arthritis and other conditions don’t affect you all the time. The pain and symptoms can come and go. Walking around a supermarket might induce that severe pain we go through so why deny someone the chance to take a few less painful steps back to their car by parking a bit closer to the door.
Open your minds cynical people, don’t be disgraced by something you know nothing about I beg of you. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the call from Vogue....


  1. You are so right!! People don't see the 'strapped to machines being drip fed horrible meds' person, or the 'too sore to actually get out of bed today' person. On the outside, we look fine, so therefore we must be fine....DOH! Well done on this blog! Keep it up!! Sending (very gentle) virtual hugs x

  2. Brill as usual. Next time I'm on my drip I'll send a pic and we can make a collage. I too get sick of having to justify my condition all the time. Ignorance is bliss they say and I guess that's true. Those people truly have no idea.

  3. I still get death stares now (after 12 years) and it really does my head in! You haveto feel sorry for the ignorance and narrow mindedness of some people. Its assumed that if you are not at least in your 70's you have stolen or borrowed the blue badge off someone! Good blog which explains exactly how all of us with RA feel. Lots of love xx

  4. I don't know if I get the nasty stares - I honestly pay no attention. So far no one's had the gall to actually approach me to voice their displeasure. If they do, I'll be more than happy to drop my pants, show them my hip replacement scars and say "I hope *you* never need one of those placards. People can be so judgmental and hurtful."

  5. Rheuma girl, thank you so much for writing this, you descirbe EXACTLY how I feel but have never been able to articulate into words. I'll share your words as a link with others, it'll really help me and help others to better understnad this hugely misunderstood condition. Your blog is pure brilliance, keep going! x

  6. Yes people should stop being judgemental, when they do not know or understand!! what a person is going through.

  7. Hi I second everything you have said I have been an RA sufferer for 21yrs since the age of 15 I have been on so many drugs in that time all of them making me feel awful in a wheel chair for a year at 15 i have been registered disabled since I was 19 and have suffered all the dirty looks and even rows because of using disabled bays people just don't understand the pain we are in constantly even though we put a brave face on it and try and live our lives and stay positive!
    It's been a struggle I have had joints replaced and am now on a new drug that seems to be working. I am getting married next month and I am happy still hurting but the same as everyone does with this disease smile and be happy!!

  8. Ahhh.. that happens to me all the time! I have actually had someone ask me if I was, and quote " Handicap or just faking it"!! I too am in my 20's ( late 20's) with RA and Polymyositis and I get the look all the time :)

  9. As a 30 year old woman with RA since 1999...I feel ya!!! Thanks!