open letters

Getting Stiffed: An Open Letter to Rheumatoid Arthritis


To what feels like a rigid death sentence that’s settled into my joints,

Thank you for confirming that I’m 25 going on 90 and making all (yes, all) conversations of the geriatric demographic informative, interesting, and relatable. I feel so mature! However, I still can’t quite figure out how to pitch this engaging bit I just learned about Glucosamine to someone my own age because #DMARDs and #successfultotalhip aren’t really trending on Twitter.

Thank you for teaching me what a three-day hangover and full-body paralysis feel like after a bottle of wine. Startup idea: an adult-sized, sound-proof incubator with the temp at a steady 90 degrees and the barometer at 60. Wait, is that a coffin?

Thank you for alienating me from boyfriends and making them think I have intimacy issues when really I just have some morning stiffness of my own. Telling someone that your cartilage is rapidly eroding with a TMJ-induced side-lisp isn’t exactly pillow talk.

Thank you for teaching me how to put on and take off a bra with only my non-dominant hand. Give me a five-clasper, Victoria’s Secret. Bring it on. Teenage boys have nothing on me.

Thank you for introducing me to senior yoga. God I feel good after those classes. Tight, limber, youthful. I may still be trying to figure out how to derail some persistent, grizzled veterans interested in setting me up with their grandsons, but those classes have taught me what an olympian feels like after winning gold. Victorious.

Thank you for making my father proud, and teaching me how to step towards consciously purchasing shoes. Albeit humbling and humiliating to feel like a summer camp craft time instructor in the office every day, I’m proud to say that I did not buy those gorgeous Rodarte gold heeled booties and just invested in orthotics with arch support. We may have to return to this when sneakers are no longer an acceptable pairing with dresses, but I guess for now we can say that I’m dressing “maturely.”

Thank you for teaching me to lighten up in my attempt to loosen up and giving me the guts to go to a clothing-optional public steam bath. This experience taught me that I can find my inner quiet place and be comfortable enough around bushes more overgrown than Grey Gardens to actually strip down and enjoy the heat. While my wrists may be getting lumpy, I felt like a Brazilian supermodel– something every girl needs to feel once in a while. From this I learned that one actually can be overdressed in a bikini and that a steam bath is actually a “steam bath”…one where no one swipes left.

On another aquatic note, thank you so much for that morning you made me feel like a pedophile at the pool when I had to enter through the kids area to get to the lap lanes. It’s rather awkward to wade through children in water wings and nose plugs with their waspy parents already nervous that their child might drown.

Thank you for reaffirming my fear of needles and making me feel like a psychopath avoiding their lithium at least once a week when it comes time for that spoonful of sugar. You’ve heightened my creativity and ability to make up excuses, one after another, for two hours every Sunday afternoon. Call me neurotic, but I still think that wearing tight denim on DMARD-day could result in a recipe for disaster worse than ebola.

Speaking of skinny jeans, thank you for making me look cool around all of my gluten-free, Vegan, and Paleo friends. Thanks to dietary recommendations for when you come to dinner, I know all of the suggested anti-inflammatory foods and look really hip and knowledgeable about what we “should be eating in 2014.”

Finally, thank you for teaching me some powerful self control to not sell the year’s supply of expired narcotics that I have in store from every doctor giving me an “emergency” supply. Do you know how many pairs of shoes this could fund? I probably should just spec out the IPOs for some of the new drugs they’re coming out with and go all in.

Not sure how long you intend to hang around, but I salute you for your insistence upon keeping this relationship interesting and inflamed.

Can’t wait to see what else you have up your sleeve,
(A sometimes active person whose body you’re currently using as your quay.)