How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Skip Akashic Records



How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Cane

Walking Like a Zombie

I’ve had arthritis for as long as I can remember, and as a kid, I had trouble writing and opening milk cartons, doors, faucets, you name it. Stiffness was a constant nuisance, especially when you’re 8 and the teachers are telling you to sit still at your desk for seven hours a day.

But I was lucky. I didn’t really have trouble walking until my late teens. I had been limping for months and was really having problems getting around.

Then, in 2009, while I was on a date with my then boyfriend — now my husband — he took me to a drugstore to buy me my first cane. I just kept thinking, “There is no way I am going out in public with a cane! I am NOT giving in to RA.” But soon he convinced me that it would be better than walking around in pain, looking like a zombie. So I begrudgingly selected a stylish cheetah-print cane. When he told me I looked cute, I felt such relief, I beamed.

We spent the rest of our evening taking that cane on a test drive. While cruising the mall more comfortably than before, I noticed that I was able to walk a lot further and see a lot more storefront window displays. “It’s not so bad after all,” I thought, grateful that I’d been persuaded to give up my stubborn ways.

That all went to hell the second I got home. As soon as my dad saw me with my shiny new accessory, he laughed. He told me I looked ridiculous and said, “Who are you trying to look like, Dr. House?! There’s no way you can be in that much pain.”

Oh, but I was.

Pride Before Pain Relief

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I felt so small and thought that if my own dad said that I looked silly, so would everyone else. I feared that I would look like a fool in front of the whole world! I believed that people would make fun of me because they couldn’t see I had arthritis.

Back then, there weren’t tests like there are now to prove to the world that my rheumatoid arthritis was actively wreaking havoc on my joints. Although the cane helped me, and actually provided an avenue of freedom, I stuffed it away in my closet.

I tried other ways to get rid of my limp. I visited a physical therapist three times a week. I iced my joints every night. And I constantly wore knee braces. No matter what I did, the limping and constant pain would not go away.

After the 12 weeks of physical therapy ended, I was tired of still being in pain. I was tired of holding my pee because just getting from my room to the bathroom was difficult. I was tired of having to wait until 10 o’ clock at night to go grocery shopping at Publix so I could get a parking spot close to the entrance of the store because I didn't have a handicapped sticker.

Finding Independence the Second Time Around

So I gave up trying to pretend to the outside world. I whipped out my cane and took it for a spin. So what if everyone laughed and stared and pointed and asked what was wrong with me. So what if people said, “But how can you have arthritis? You’re too young.” What matters is that it makes my life easier. It’s not a crutch, it’s a tool that gives me back the freedom and independence RA took away from me. I’m not going to base my ability to get around on the fact that people are judging me because there is a stereotype that only grandmothers walk with canes.

I later figured out that having my cane not only helped me, it helped other people too.

Every time someone asks about my cheetah cane, I tell them I have rheumatoid arthritis and explain that arthritis does not discriminate. I’m hopeful that there will be a day when everyone knows that anyone, at any age, can get arthritis. So if you see a young person with a walker, cane, or wheelchair, don’t make fun of them. Tell them they look awesome! They will beam too.

Stephanie Aleite struggles with the uncommon autoimmune disease juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She lives in Miami, Fla., but shares her feelings with people all over the world on her blog, The Young Face of Arthritis. You can also follow Stephanie on Twitter.

Last Updated:8/19/2014
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Date: 08.12.2018, 03:41 / Views: 55255