Today is our 36th wedding anniversary, or our 22nd, if you count our Vegas one. (But that’s a story for another day, haha.) We got married right out of college and two weeks later, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. If not for our ignorance about the disease, we probably would have lost our minds. We had only heard the term arthritis on television commercials. Two women playing tennis and one rubs her hand and says her arthritis is bothering her…Her partner says she should consider rubbing Ben-Gay on it and it would be fine. That’s what we thought we were up against. And five years later, I had my first knee replaced, and two years after that, the other knee, and on and on…
I chose very early in my disease to ignore it, and I hoped that if I did, others would too. When I ultimately took disability from banking, customers would see me in stores or restaurants and ask where I’d been. When I’d say I was taking disability, they didn’t understand. You probably think that’s odd, but it was the greatest accomplishment of my career. I personally think my arthritis is really visible, from my hands, to my limp…the fact that others don’t see it, means my decision to ignore it did help others to ignore it too.
What’s that have to do with our anniversary? It’s how we made it through. We ignore it as much as we can and live our lives. It’s the best advice I can give anyone with arthritis. Choose to ignore it and find joy in the things you can and ignore the rest. If people ask me how I am, I say I’m fine, no matter if I am or not.
Our great niece whose 17, just asked me the secret to staying married for so long, and I told her to find someone you have fun with, that’s your best friend. And that even now, if Rich has been away for a couple of days, when I see him, my heart still skips a beat. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and if there’s a reason for things, I’ll take arthritis if I get to have Rich. It’s more than worth the trade-off.