RArainbow

A resource blog for young women living with (Juvenile) Rheumatoid Arthritis


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“The Fault In Our Stars” movie (spoiler alert!)

Hi everyone! I recently saw The Fault In Our Stars movie and wanted to share some thoughts on it. I am a huge fan of the book by John Green (which I wrote about here) and so I was really looking forward to this movie. And I loved it! Though they had to make some changes in the movie and omit some parts, overall the movie held on to the honesty of the book, which is really what makes the story so special.

We all know it’s a romance and we all know it’s about cancer – but the story is more realistic and deep than the typical romantic-comedy (or illness film, for that matter). Our protagonists Hazel and Gus explore so many different questions and concepts when it comes to being chronically ill, such as “oblivion” and making a mark on the world and who will remember us when we pass on. Also, although the characters all have cancer, the story does not focus on cancer itself. This is not one of those stories where the character triumphs against all odds and everyone lives happily ever after. Instead, it’s about teens who have cancer and how they spend their lives – definitely more realistic than what we’ve ever seen in the mainstream media. And though there may not be the typical “happily ever after” that we’re accustomed to seeing, there is definitely a lot of joy which they find in their lives, even with cancer.

Having had autoimmune arthritis for most of my life, I related a lot to Hazel and the other young characters faced with illness. From the very first lines of the movie, I knew exactly what Hazel meant when she says, “I believe we have a choice in this world about how to tell sad stories. On the one hand, you can sugarcoat it. When nothing is too messed up that can’t be fixed by a Peter Gabriel song. I like that version as much as the next girl does. It’s just not the truth.”

When it comes to illness, I’ve realized that it is very difficult for persons (especially healthy persons) to be exposed to the reality of a life of illness. The world loves winners and we love to hear stories about persons overcoming their illnesses and going into remission, about persons with prosthetic limbs becoming amazing athletes and about persons triumphing in tough situations. I won’t lie, I love those stories too (and you know I share them on this site all the time). They absolutely inspire me and give me energy and motivation to keep pushing ahead. But illness is definitely not a glamorous situation, and persons who excel have to work hard (and experience a lot of mental pain as well as physical pain) to get where they’re going. In short, it’s not easy.

One of the most thought-provoking lines of the film uttered by Augustus Waters is, “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” I have to agree when it comes to emotional pain. We try to avoid pain and painful situations in our lives, but the reality is that sometimes the only way to get through a situation is to experience that pain and work though it, even if it means tears are going to be streaming down our face. Running from pain means it’s always there, just below the surface. Painting a smile on our faces and pretending that nothing is wrong doesn’t work out in the long run, does it? Sometimes, it’s only by facing that painful situation head on that we learn to really accept and deal with it – and this is what makes us stronger and smarter for the future.

I liked Hazel’s story because it showed the reality of living with chronic illness as a young person. Yes, there are a million doctor visits and needles and pain, but there are also beautiful moments of joy and “normal” life too. They still went out and had great times together, like every other person their age. Their love and bond was extremely beautiful – but not in a sappy, puke-inducing kind of way 😉 . Watching them and knowing what they were both experiencing health-wise, I felt glad that they had each other to lean on. When you are sick or going through tough times is really when you need love in your life (whether it is from significant others, family or friends).

I think that having arthritis made the movie more personal to me as I related to the pain of the characters and their thoughts, fears and frustrations. My heart went out to Gus as he broke down crying at the gas-station as he tried to buy a pack of cigarettes – and hold on to a shred of normalcy and independence in his life with the cancer. If you have a chronic illness, then you can probably relate.

All in all, this movie is definitely worth watching and quite funny at times. I am extremely happy that a mainstream movie has come along starring young people with illness. The movie is not overly sad or over-dramatic or sappy – it’s just right. I did cry throughout most of the movie, but I think it’s because I was able to relate to Hazel’s words a lot. For those of you who don’t live with illness, did you cry as much as I did? Haha, please let me know!

Whether you have an illness or not, please let me know in the comments what you thought of the film, or if you are planning to go see it. Thanks guys! 🙂

❤ Ms. Rainbow.

 

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Goodbye high-heels/How to feel confident while wearing grandma shoes when you’re not a grandma (or even if you are)

[Disclaimer: Grandmas are beautiful and strong women who often give us strength. This post is not intended to offend anyone who is a grandmother. ;)]

Hi everyone! Today I’m discussing a topic which is often a source of frustration for young women who are growing up with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

High-heels. Whenever I turn on the television I’m flooded with images of women modelling infinite variations of sky-high heels. When I go out to parties it seems that every young woman is decked out in the latest high-heeled style. When I was growing up, even my Barbie doll’s ankles were permanently bent at an angle so she could wear heels. In our society we tend to associate high-heels with sexiness, womanhood and overall female va-va voom, right?

heelsWhen you have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, however, wearing high heels is sometimes a painful and physically impossible feat (pun intended ;)), as you might have swollen, painful joints which may be damaged or even fused. So how do women (especially young women) feel when they can’t participate in a trend which has become such an integral part of being a woman in our western culture?

As a teen I loved my heels, as painful as they were on my JRA-affected ankles and knees. Wearing heels made me feel good about myself… and also helped me from drowning in crowds of people, as I am not very tall! 🙂 However, by the age of 25 one of my ankles had become so damaged and fused that walking in heels became physically impossible (and painful), so I was forced to say goodbye to my heels. Fashion has had to take a backseat as I now wear flat shoes with lots of support. Sensible shoes have taken the place of fancy strappy heels. I know that when I dress up with flats, my look doesn’t quite have that va-va voom effect that my friends have with their high heels. But it’s okay. I might not have heels to give me that va-va voom effect, so I try to get my va-va voom from the inside. 😉 While they may not be “sexy” to many persons, I am determined to rock my comfy grandma shoes and my grandpa-style loafers. Do you think we can start a new RA-friendly shoe trend, ladies?

I still think heels make a woman look sexy, but now I think that sexiness – true sexiness – comes from the inside, from your personality and who you are. It comes from your confidence as a woman, which in turn comes from how much you love yourself. And unlike heels, that inner sexiness and confidence stays with you always, even when your shoes are off.

My dear beautiful ladies, if you can’t wear heels:

1. Love yourself! Learn to love everything about your unique self. Whether you can wear heels or not should not impact how you feel about yourself on the inside. With or without heels you are still a beautiful woman who has a lot to offer this world – make sure you remember that! Think about the qualities you like about yourself and realize how amazing you are. 😉

2. Do activities you enjoy, such as sports, art, cooking, singing, learning a new language, playing an instrument etc. – whatever makes you happy, go for it. Doing activities we love helps us to feel happier and more confident in our abilities.

3. Realize your skills, strength and unique personality and get your confidence from that. You might not have the confidence booster of wearing heels, but you can show off your beautiful personality and unique talents instead.

4. Rock those grandma shoes! Whatever shoes you’re wearing, wear them confidently. So what if every young woman is wearing heels and towering over you as you showcase your comfortable grandpa-loafers? Be confident in yourself and give those comfy shoes the love they deserve by showing them off proudly!

5. Find cute flat shoes. If you can’t wear heels, that doesn’t mean you can’t look cute and polished. Try looking for comfortable flat boots, ballet flats, loafers or sandals. I found some great fashion tips for ladies who are unable to wear heels in this article from About.com. There are actually many pretty shoes which you can wear if your ankles are weak, although it might take some effort to find them. Check out BarkingDogShoes.com which reviews comfortable shoes for problematic feet. If you find cute flats which don’t offer enough support, try adding insoles for extra comfort. Kiran from The Life of a Porcelain Doll shares some very useful shoe tips for young ladies with JRA in this article.

I know that many young women who have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis struggle between being fashionable and being in pain due to JRA-affected ankles, knees and hips. Remember that shoe styles may come and go, but your personality will always be in. So make sure you show it off. 😉

Readers, feel free to share your shoe stories or recommendations in the comments below!

 

Until next time,

Take care of those feet ladies! 🙂

Ms. Rainbow

 

[Image by pixabay.com]