Living so near Minneapolis, it is hard not to feel the excitement of the Super Bowl. The city and suburbs have had a lot of winter activities going on all week leading up to the big game on Sunday. From concerts to sleigh rides to the coolest art shows, Minnesota is going all out for a fabulously memorable experience.
With all the Super Bowl hype going on, I got to thinking of how the fans will prepare for the game. I immediately thought of the diehard fans that literally paint on their game day face. I then thought of how those of us with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) put on our game day face everyday. Of course we don’t paint our face, but we buck up and move forward to meet the demands of our day. That is what you do when one has a chronic disease with significant symptoms, but they are invisible to other people. No one can see or even guess what you are dealing with. There is often nothing visible to those on the outside, unless you are using a wheelchair or a splint or some other piece of durable medical equipment, to give a clue as to what is really happening in your life.
I thought of 3 main things we hide behind our game day face.
- Pain. Pain and swelling of our joints is hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. We just forge forward doing our best to get around. The tenderness of our joints often cause us to compensate for the pain causing bigger problems. We will favor a wrist or shoulder only to cause our elbow or back to get out of whack while trying to “help” our body. We often times cannot take the day off and the situation speaks to the importance of exercise to build up the muscles around our joints to help support them. This hopefully will prevent more distant parts of our body from trying to compensate ending up pinching a nerve or worse!
- Fatigue. As debilitating as the pain is, the fatigue caused by RA is just as problematic. Our personality can change because of it, becoming flat and missing so much of what is going on around us because of the fatigue. It affects relationships, the ability to function and follow through with commitments or simply what needs to be done. Once again, something may seem off to others, but they do not identify the fatigue. It is silent. It is invisible.
- Depression. A common result of chronic pain and fatigue like a person with RA experiences is depression. The depression can even be hidden by the pain and fatigue. It is important to be aware of this and get help if you lose interest in things you normally would want to engage in or keep informed about. This is another invisible aspect of a chronic disease such as RA. The more we stay aware of the increased risk of depression, the more apt we are to get help for it. I have always thought a support group would be helpful to be a part of.
So, as the build up to the Super Bowl is taking place and the fans put their game day face on, it has caused me to reflect on how those of us with RA put our game day face on every day. We try to keep up with the world around us. And the world around us usually has no idea what all we are shouldering.
We play the Super Bowl game every day with our game face on. It’s just nobody else knows it!
Arthritis Wisdom wishes you many wins and championships!
Take good care. XXOO Cathy
photo credit: rawpixel.com from unsplash