A resource blog for young women living with Arthritis


The Lego Movie, Juvenile Arthritis and being the Master Builder of your own life

[SPOILER ALERT: I will be discussing certain aspects of The Lego Movie in this post. Read at your own risk and consider yourself warned! ūüėČ ]

Hi everyone! I recently saw The Lego Movie and was inspired to write a post about it today. I spent much of my childhood using Lego pieces to build animals, doll furniture for my Barbies and random works of art ūüėČ , so¬†the Lego brand is certainly a wonderful memory from my childhood.¬†Personally, I think Lego is one of the most amazing toys ever invented, as it encourages creativity at every age –¬†and it is arthritis-friendly!¬†But to be honest, I was wary of seeing this movie, since I felt it would be childish and geared toward a younger age group. Also I was not sure how I could sit through an entire movie animated with pieces who walk stiffly without bending their knees¬†(Hey!¬†Sounds eerily like arthritis, doesn’t it? ūüėČ ).¬†However, I really enjoyed it and found certain parts very touching. There are many ways to interpret this film, but ultimately it’s a great movie for families to watch together and I highly recommend going to see it if you have ever played with Lego pieces. As someone who thrives on everything creative, I absolutely loved it.

There are some wonderful messages in this movie, one of them being that life is fluid and that the possibilities to create are infinite. In addition, what someone sees as silly and unconventional, may be in fact be useful – it’s all a matter of perception. As someone who has grown up with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), a condition which causes joint inflammation, damage and challenges to my movement, I was able to relate very much to these particular points. Growing up with arthritis, I am lucky that my medical team and family members encouraged me to always try. When I was diagnosed with JRA as a child, my joints were inflamed to the point where I was¬†often unable to move or walk. But I still had to try. I tried to walk with walkers, but my hands could barely grip the handles. I would drag myself around the house on my butt¬†to get around, because it was the easiest way to move. In public, I forced myself to walk upright and had a noticeable limp. Though people often stared, it always got me to where I needed to be.

The message I received growing up was that it didn’t matter¬†whether my joints were swollen¬†or if I limped or that I had to wear¬†leg braces¬†or had to take injections – I could still do my lessons and attempt sports and¬†achieve my goals in whichever manner I wanted. I knew that the challenges I faced were not typical to my peers¬†and that knowledge gave me a freedom of sorts.¬†While my teenage counterparts were gushing over magazine covers¬†and attempting¬†diets to emulate their favourite models, I did not feel particularly¬†pressured to follow them, because I knew I had¬†other challenges to worry about and I had to put my energy into making myself healthy and strong to deal with arthritis. I knew that I was on a different playing field than my peers and that I did not have to¬†do exactly¬†what they did. As I grew older, without any sort of guide book or precedent to follow, I realized that I could make up my own rules for living with arthritis. I could try new activities, travel and do things that made me feel happy (legally, of course ūüėČ ) , even if it was not in keeping with what was “popular”.

As a 20-something year old, I’m happy to say I have been able to achieve many of my personal goals. With treatment, my arthritis¬†is significantly calmer and¬†I continue to work hard at my goals, with arthritis by my side.

So, back to The Lego Movie. In the movie, characters labeled as the “Master Builders” are those creative souls who never read the instructions and who utilize available Lego pieces to get out of sticky situations. They are skilled at using whatever limited resources they may have and turning unlikely scraps into useful, functional models. Likewise, people living with chronic illnesses remind me of Master Builders, because they still find ways to achieve no matter what challenge they may be facing (want to travel to Africa¬†with a wheelchair? No problem. Want to climb a mountain with arthritis? You can do it.) In my readings, I have noticed that children, in particular, are often¬†good at adapting to life with chronic illness –¬†probably¬†because they are innocent and unaware of the perceived limitations (or “instructions”)¬†society has set for persons living with illness.

Another message conveyed by¬†the movie is that we are all capable and hold value, no matter our backgrounds or skills or abilities. In the movie, a prophecy tells of the chosen one who will save the world – the “Special.” Emmet Brickowski is an ordinary instruction-following¬†construction worker, who is eventually told that¬†he is the Special. He is elated and at times¬†believes it. He believes in himself and his abilities….until he is told that the prophecy was fake and there never¬†was a Special. The message¬†Emmet learns¬†is that it’s not just certain people who can hold power or make a difference – every single person has the potential to make a difference. I know it’s a simple, sugary message that might have some of you rolling your eyes at this point, but it’s something I have learned is true.

At a recent doctor’s appointment, I¬†observed a 4-year old boy playing with a 2-year old boy. Neither boy had the use of his legs and could only sit on the ground as they played with the surrounding toys. The 2-year old tried to lift his body onto a children’s car, but he was unable to do so because his legs were too weak. Watching him struggle, the 4-year old boy (who himself could not walk) tried to lift the 2-year old’s body onto the car. When he realized he was unable to do this, he called his mother to lift the 2-year old boy onto the car. I was really impressed with the 4-year old’s ability to realize¬†the frustration of the 2-year old and find a way to help his new friend.

It’s a simple example¬†which¬†shows us that¬†every person has the ability to touch or connect with another person, no matter our age or situation. We can choose to live our lives separately with illness (which is perfectly acceptable), or we can connect and¬†potentially create something pretty amazing – just like Lego pieces haha. ūüėČ ūüėõ

Living with a chronic illness isn’t always easy and at times it is extremely frustrating, isn’t it? But ultimately, I’ve found that¬†it often teaches us to think outside of the box and to find creative ways to achieve our goals. We learn to think like the Master Builders in The Lego Movie, and learn to see potential and possibility where many would think there is none.

Readers, have any of you seen The Lego Movie? What messages did you take away from it? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks! I hope you are all doing well!
Ms. Rainbow