Last evening I was introduced to a young man who has been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. One of his relatives knew that I, too, have a form of juvenile arthritis (albeit an adult-onset form, that will in all likelihood become rheumatoid [some signs are already present]) and made sure to introduce him to me. He is now the second person I have met with juvenile arthritis.
As we spoke he asked what I did to help control the arthritis. I talked about the benefits I find from swimming and using a hot tub and naturally I spoke also of the benefits of Hawai'i. To explain what I meant I mentioned that here in Illinois, as soon as I open a door on a foggy morning my joints immediately feel pain.
Here, I fear fog and mist and cold rains. There, I can hike mountains in fog and mist and rain. The difference is unbelievable.
As I said this, he gave me a very knowing look with wide eyes, as if to be excited to finally find another who might know what he experienced. I must say that, on my end, it was also nice to see such a knowing look. Sometimes as I try to explain to people what the arthritis does and why one day I will have no symptoms at all and the next day be hardly able to move, I want to quote the fibromyalgia commercial: "If I looked as bad as I feel, then would you believe me?"
As the Bishop and I travelled to this particular parish last night for Confirmation, we drove through a storm that dropped the temperature nearly twenty degrees. When we emerged from the storm after about thirty minutes, the temperature increased that same twenty degrees, the effects of which I am still feeling this morning, despite the blue and sunny skies outside my window. As the day moves on, I will feel better and by the afternoon I expect to be fine.
While I am on this topic, let me mention the biggest irritation of the arthritis. It is when people - well meaning as they are - say to me, "You're too young to have arthritis." Apparently not. Please, never say something so lame and foolish.
Today I will offer the stiffness and pain in my joints for the people of Joplin, Missouri who have lost so much in recent hours. Please join me in praying for them.