Dear Ms. Meniscus: If I want to talk about my  arthritis during Christmas dinner, can I? I tried at Thanksgiving and everyone shouted me down, told me to get a life and stop whining. I think if I cook the meal they should have to listen to whatever I want to say. Talking Turkey

Dear Talking Turkey, No one should ever have to be “shouted down” by the entire family during the holiday season.  Unfortunately, some people do not understand that RA is a real chronic disease.  They might dismiss rheumatoid arthritis for a dull pain which could be no more bothersome than an occasional cramp.  Of course you have the right to talk about your arthritis, just as everyone else’s conversations will doubtless turn to financial, marital or political ramblings, you have the right to talk about what is going on in your life.

CreakyJoints’ executive director, Louis Tharp has experienced this many times. He advises that first, a person being targeted as “a whiner” might in fact be doing just that — resulting in creating a burden to others around them. However most of the time, the person, like you is just being social and letting those around them know what is happening in their life.

If you receive more hostile reactions, you could politely suggest that you would like to continue the conversation later in a more private setting.  Perhaps a one-on-one or a smaller group would be the best environment to frame this topic that is important to you. Speak your mind, and make sure to back up what you are saying with methods you are utilizing to cope and treat your arthritis.  Teach them what RA really is, and hopefully they will learn to understand that you are not just whining for attention.   Happy Holidays, everyone. –M

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