According to Wikipedia, the black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

So, the 3 attributes of a Black Swan Event are:

  1. The event is a surprise (to the observer).
  2. The event has a major effect.
  3. After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs. The same is true for the personal perception by individuals.

With this definition of the Black Swan Event, it is easy to see that my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) “event” fits it perfectly.

Now let’s unpack such a loaded statement!

First, the surprise.

Living many years with joint pain, extreme fatigue, and an overall  feeling of constantly having the flu, I finally experienced a symptom that ended up being the final clue to solve what was causing the uproar in my body. The symptom, pain in both wrists, was the necessary indication for the MRI  to diagnose my RA.  Full blown synovitis lit up the screen and my history was forever changed.  Surprise, surprise!   An RA diagnosis is a shock no matter how it comes about.

Second, the major effect.

Major effect is an understatement. Getting a RA diagnosis, a potentially disabling disease that has no cure, shifted how I will move forward forever.   For instance, wondering how long I will be mobile and if the pain and swelling will get worse.  Other issues involve taking serious medications, risk of other diseases related to RA, and facing the fact there are no guarantees that what we try will work.  How is that for a cheerful life changer!

Third, let’s sum it up as hindsight.

Looking back, there were things that happened consistent with a pattern seen with RA patients.  I had a serious viral infection in my twenties.  Years later a corporate acquisition at the pharmacy I worked for caused prolonged stress.  Suffering a goofy fall checks the traumatic event box .  And finally, having a parent with an autoimmune means a genetic predisposition for autoimmunity.  So, in hindsight it doesn’t look as random of a diagnosis.  (I wish knew to practice my *FRESH*™ Approach to mitigate risks, like stress management, to possibly prevent the tipping point that flipped the switch causing my body to attack itself).

As a result, My Black Swan Event has landed me a fascinating journey.  Consequently, I want to share what I have learned.  And that is what Arthritis Wisdom is all about!

My pharmacy training set me up to understand medical literature, know the medications and how they work.  I’m able to take a deep dive to learn more.  On top of that, my work experience in the medical field allows me to navigate the health care system with ease and efficiency.  It puts me in proximity to those who can help.

So, as I satisfy my curiosities about arthritis, I will share the info with you.  It has been almost nine years since I was diagnosed, and I will tell you a lot has advanced in that time.  The discoveries are coming fast and furious from new medications to innovative technology and all sorts of lifestyle tips.

Therefore,  I hope you stop by Arthritis Wisdom often.  And don’t forget to leave a comment or two.  I love to learn from you, too!

XXOO  Cathy

photo credit: Dorothe Wouters at Unsplash

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Arthritis should have the smallest footprint possible on your day-to-day living.  Small things added together make a huge impact.  Here’s to living your best life, even with arthritis!  Cheers!


Cathy from Arthritis Wisdom


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