I don’t think I’ve ever really meshed well with my generation. And I know that all millennial claim they’re not like the other millennials with their lazy no good attitude because back in my day I used to walk to school both ways barefoot in the snow and whatever bullshit made up stories my older relatives would tell me to prove that their life was harder than how “kids have it now”.
I guess in some ways they’re right, though. It’s very very different now. Between attention being treated and sold as a commodity and addiction to things like social media and video games (not acid like in the “good ole days”), our generation is so stuck on the now and not the future….maybe if our future wasn’t to clean up an economic, political, and socioeconomic crisis maybe, maybe, we’d be planning a bit more. Then again if the ice caps melt at the rate they are now, we won’t really ever have to plan – BUT THAT’S NOT WHY I’M HERE TODAY.
I don’t think I’ve ever referred to myself as normal. I think i’m functioning and doing what I can with the limitations I have in order to crush goals, have adventures, and build the empire I have been planning since 2006. But, here’s one thing I never factored into my plan that’s always been there – my body.
I was born with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). It was genetic; my Mom has it, her Mom had it, I’m sure her Mom’s Mom had it. It’s like a cute family tradition, but instead of cute it’s painful and instead of tradition it’s like a chore. I can’t speak what my other family members have had, but I can for mine.
Since I was around 3 years old, I have been well versed with my conditions on top of the rest of my medical file. However, from what every doctor had explained to me, my JRA was sleeping. Which just means “it’s there, you’ll definitely have it, but you wont feel it yet”. So I lived my life as I should growing up – socially awkward and telling terribly timed jokes. Basically where I am now, but missing teeth and still hopeful for Santa, and maybe a bit shorter (if I’m lucky).
I did karate; I did horseback riding; I attempted soccer, cheerleading, fencing, and dance; I did theatre; I did choirs on choirs; I did kickboxing – I did everything under the sun normally (just slightly uncoordinated). Then I hit 19 years old and Rick Van Winkle arose from it’s slumber shedding it’s JRA skin into a passive aggressive mature RA.
For those unfamiliar, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic progressive disease causing inflammation in the joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles. As an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign shit like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints (how sweet). This creates inflammation that causes the tissue around the inside of joints to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints.
If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage the cartilage, the elastic tissue that covering the joint at the end of your bones, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, you lose cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. AKA my joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose their mobility – think of a very old person as jello and that’s what the end of the tunnel is suppose to be like.
Basically, I am a twentysomethingyearold in a hundredsomethingyearold’s body. No joke, cane and all. Like I said though, I don’t think I’ve ever been normal or like the rest of everyone my age. I’ve been conditioned and prepared for this disease to attack since forever. But, I don’t think I’ve ever expected it to hurt this much..
I don’t think people understand how frustrating it is to not be able to hold your cup of coffee in the morning because you can’t close your hand. How you can’t leave your house because you can’t get your hands to grasp the doorknob or manage to put on your pants when your knees won’t unbend. How you have different shoes in different sizes because somedays your feet, toes and ankles will be so swollen that the cute white platform boots you cried tears of joy for won’t close. It fucking sucks.
And it almost feels foolish because you have to pep-talk yourself when calling your manager to call out/work at home because you just physically can’t leave and typing will hurt but at least you’re in your own home. You have to get creative with excuses for not going out with friends because you’re tired and your body hurts, but you can’t tell them you’re just tired because we’re all tired. And the best is when you do tell them why and it’s “can you take anything like advil?” like yes, but I’ll have a bloody nose the whole time. Then if I start to rattle off what I normally take (vitamins and herbs only because that “medication” doctors give you will kill your brain cells. Look it up) and they glaze over almost like they regret asking.
I don’t know. I just wanna know where a girl can go from here? Like, I am unbelievably grateful for all I have, all I’ve worked for, and how far I’ve come – but damn it, I want to wear my cute platform boots when I want to wear them! Silver lining though, at least I’m not Gen Z with their fucking vape pens.
Until next time, and be understanding to your young old people (we need it!),