I hate having RA! There are only a few people in my circle of acquaintances that have experience with it. Most people I know have said “Oh, (so and so) has arthritis and it gets bad right before it rains”. That’s not what I have. That is Osteoarthritis and yes, it’s painful and at times debilitating but Osteo and Rheumatoid, while having similarities, are not the same thing. This disease came at me out of nowhere – not years of gradual joint deterioration, but a rapid onset, intense attack against my own joints from my immune system. My immune system hates everything about the way I move and the way I think. There is a psychological component that chemically tests my sanity.
I joke about my morning “Zombie Walk” and roll with the “Frankenstein” days the best I can. Day in and day out it takes a toll because it’s so much more than the standard horror story. When I’m stiff my brain tells me not to move. Moving is the most important thing for me to do, but my brain says no, even knowing that I’m destroying myself. That battle inside me is making me a little crazy and angry! I was always on the go raising 4 amazing kids. I am NOT lazy, I want to get out in the world, I want to walk, I want to get together with people. This is not a character flaw that requires me to use mind over matter to combat, and I am furious with people that suggest it is. Live one day in my body and then tell me that bullshit. I believe that I am taking the necessary medications, within my financial ability, to deal with the RA itself and trust my rheumatologist in that area, but the other stuff that comes along with this awful disease is mostly ignored.
Here’s what makes my condition so much worse… My insurance doesn’t cover anything other than a few stingy co-pays for my prescriptions. Our expensive employer assisted plan has a $14,000 family deductible and $7000 of it is for me alone. I have to pay SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS before I can get the treatment I desperately need and every single year that amount gets higher! Even then, they only pay a percentage and frequently deny doctor recommended and entirely necessary medical, prescription and psychological care. I forgo most treatments since they cost tens of thousands of dollars and since most of my care is not paid for up front, I don’t hit my deductible until November. We get a brief reprieve in December since that’s the only month that my appointments and my (approved but not ideal) medications are paid for. Now that this is the standard operating procedure for insurance companies, it’s almost impossible to get a December doctor’s appointment. Physicians are doing their best to juke the system in an attempt to give vital treatment to their patients but it’s a losing battle when up against these massive profiteering insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.
Adding insult to injury. I need a therapist to help me manage my chronic pain and increasing depression and the ONLY therapists within 40 miles of me call themselves “Christian Counselors”. The trauma that I have suffered at their hands is considerable and I will never go to one again. They should be outlawed in my mind because of the pain and misery they put out in our communities, but that’s another story. Trust me, my disdain is justified.
Why am I writing all of this?! Hell, I don’t know. I just want someone else in this world to know that the suffering in this country is significant and I wish more people cared. It seems our government officials enjoy fighting over ridiculousness that helps no one and makes our legislative floors look like a morbidly stupid “reality” TV show… while our people are wasting away. Any government that allows, let alone, supports corporations that make our people sicker and ultimately facilitates our early deaths is a failing government. I’m a middle-class woman; I can’t imagine how a person with no disposable income survives a bad, yet treatable diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the United States’ suicide rate has doubled since the turn of this century. Is it any wonder?