If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all okay
And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken.
Hands – Jewel
Some of you may be familiar with the lyrics of the beautiful song “Hands” by Jewel. Though it is not intended to be about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) or other forms of autoimmune arthritis, I think it can apply very well to our situations. Worrying is part of living with illness, but we often reach a point where we realize that we cannot control what’s happening. And from there, we learn to accept and make the best of our situations. The lyrics of the song also apply literally, because when we get Rheumatoid Arthritis our hands are often affected. And that’s what I want to speak about today, among other things.
How many of you reading this have arthritis in your hands? How many of you have joint “deformities” as a result of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or other types of autoimmune arthritis?
I was diagnosed with JRA at age 7 and by age 8 my right wrist had completely fused and my left had partially fused. A couple of my fingers have what is referred to as “boutonnièrre deformity.” (I plan to have another discussion on the word “deformity” another time, it’s coming 😉 ). Over time most of my joints have gotten affected and some look a bit squishy and bony and wonky (very scientific terms, I know ;)).
I know a lot of us are self-conscious about the way arthritis has affected our hands and other joints. Maybe it’s because I grew up with my damaged joints, but I have never seen them as that big of a deal. My “deformities” are part of me. They’re my fingers and my hands and my joints and they have been through so much pain already. My poor fused ankle has been through two surgeries and I think it’s an incredibly resilient body part.
If anyone makes fun of your joints, don’t ever allow that to make you feel bad about yourself. Your situation is incredibly unique and your body has been affected by aggressive arthritis. Why should you feel bad about that? If you are scared about people teasing you about your deformities, think about it like this: the people who tease you are likely not people you’d want to be friends with if they’re that unkind. The people who take the time to listen to you and learn about your affected joints are extra-special, so when you find them, make sure you cherish them. 🙂
If you are worried about gentlemen friends freaking out when they go to hold your hands, put those fears to rest. A guy who loves you is going to be happy to hold your hands no matter what they look like. Promise! 🙂
Our Arthritis-affected hands are strong and allow us to write exams, to cook, to drive, to sew and to give hugs. Our affected joints allow us to work, to travel and to care for our families. Let’s give our bodies the credit they deserve. They are fighting a battle every day and they are so strong!
Remember also that having autoimmune arthritis isn’t a typical situation which every person experiences. My JRA has taught me to be stronger and to look beyond physical appearances. It’s also taught me to look beyond what persons may say about my body. At the end of the day, those comments don’t affect how our bodies perform physically. So let’s take pride in our bodies, our strengths and our abilities and love ourselves with our arthritis. Elizabeth of That Girl With Arthritis wrote a very inspiring post about being “Chronically extraordinary” and I have to say I completely agree! 🙂
Let’s keep pushing on with our beautifully strong joints and chronically extraordinary selves. 😉
Readers, how do you feel about your affected joints? What has your condition taught you? Feel free to discuss these questions in the comments or leave advice for those who are still learning to accept their amazingly beautiful bodies.
All the best!