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Mar 31, 2015

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, wow, she looks pretty good, she must take care of herself, and she looks like she’s in great shape too. And then got really confused when you see her walk up to a car with a handicap placard in it? Have you ever looked at the person and though, what the hell does she need a handicap placard for?! She LOOKS FINE!! She’s WALKING!! Have you ever then gotten really pissed off that she’s got a handicap placard when you think she doesn’t actually need it? Have you ever thought that she faked her way into that placard? Ya, me too.

My mom has Osteoarthritis. She had to have both her knees replaced. She had a placard for while she was recovering from surgery and she got a lot of nasty looks because people only saw her when she was able to walk on her own again. And then my mom was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. These diseases are the silent ones. They creep up on you and then BAM, hit you like a ton of bricks at 100km/hr. On her good days, and even her bad days, she’s capable of driving to the grocery store, she’s able to load up her grocery cart and she’s able to get the bags into her car and then up to her apartment. What you don’t see is the pain she’s in while she’s doing all of that. On her good days, with her medications, she could fly you across the Universe and might only need a nap and some extra strength Tylenol. On her bad days, she sleeps more because the pain makes her tired and she will forgo having to go out because she just can’t deal. The world is just too much on these days. My mom, luckily, has been on some good medications lately, which has reduced the number of bad days down to a few, every so often. YAY! My mom is 69. You would expect that maybe someone her age would experience stuff like this, after all, she is a senior (it’s still hard for me to think of her that way because she hasn’t changed, she’s still the same, zany and weird mom I’ve known my whole life).

But that woman, who you saw get into her car with the handicap placard, the one you thought was fine because she looked fine, she’s got Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis too. She’s only 36. She’s had to fight tooth and nail to get her doctors to test her and x-ray her to prove what she’s known all along. Most days she feels pretty good, and only has an achy toe or a “kind of” sore knee but, sometimes, she feels so tired and exhausted and achy all over, she just wants to crawl back into bed and dream the world and achiness away. Sometimes she cries because she just doesn’t know what else to do. Sometimes she gets angry because part of the reason she’s got these issues is because of genetics/family history. Sometimes she wants to curl up into a ball and be lost to the world forever. Sometimes she wants to scream at her doctors because, even though they KNOW she’s got osteoarthritis, they still have a hard time believing that her knuckles are sore and it could be the start of osteoarthritis in her fingers. Sometimes she feels like she’s going crazy because she doesn’t know why her body is angry with her and she can’t explain the pain except to say that it’s just “sore, you know?!”

So, the next time you see someone who “looks” fine with a handicap placard or you see someone who needs a little extra help, remember that he or she may have a hidden disease and he or she could be going through a lot. Be kind in your actions and be kind in your thoughts. And send them some love.

Peace, Marni

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