From the time I was five years old, up late at night in pain from my systemic juvenile arthritis, I’ve looked up to Lucy. The humor in her shows had a way of cheering me up that nothing else could quite reach. It still has that effect on me 22 years later.
As it does with many people we look up to in life, my admiration for Lucy changed throughout my life as I learned and experienced new things. The biggest change in how I saw Lucy occurred a few years ago when, in looking up celebrities with arthritis for my site Not Standing Still’s Disease, I discovered that Lucy suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.
I was shocked as I learned more about her battle. I began to watch episodes of her shows with a new eye, sometimes being able to catch the all too familiar limp I have when my leg joints are upset. I’ve only caught these things occasionally though as Lucy was amazing at covering up her pain. She generally wouldn’t wear things that showed off her legs, move in certain ways, or stand too long due to a deformity from her first major flare up – a flare up that left her bed-bound for nearly two years and forced her to relearn how to walk.
She did all that before heading on to one of the most amazing careers in history. For others to know that she did this all while suffering from a type of arthritis? Not only would that bring awareness to RA and other types of arthritis, but I believe that it would help others to focus on achieving their dreams despite the obstacles in their way. I know that it has helped me in dark times to know she had been through similar things and still did so much.
Last Thursday, my husband sent me an article about the upcoming Lucy biopic. I was ecstatic! I posted on social media that I really hoped Aaron Sorkin and the others involved in making this film would help to depict Lucy’s battle with RA in this film. I thought that someone had to get him the information, to stage a request. I thought of organizations I could go to and ask them to start something in motion.
For a split second, I was transported back to one of my earliest memories with arthritis.
I was about six and a half, just old enough that we knew this was arthritis we were dealing with instead of the myriad of misdiagnoses we received. It was a rough night. My rash was covering most of my body and incredibly itchy. I just kept hurting and hurting, getting very little sleep. I took a bath and hopped into a long t-shirt, knowing I wouldn’t be able to sleep anytime soon. The episode of I Love Lucy where she is in Italy and stomping grapes came on the television, followed by other classics. Instead of focusing on my pain, I was able to laugh. I was still in pain, but the laughter and the joy that Lucy brought helped me feel so much better.
That amazing Redhead has helped me for most of my life and here I was looking for others to help her. That just wouldn’t do. I’ve created a petition to ask Aaron Sorkin and Lucy’s children, Desi Jr. and Lucie, to include Lucy’s battle with RA in this upcoming film. Whether or not this information makes it into the film, I hope that it does Lucy proud to see her rheummates stepping up to bat for her.
To read more and sign Kirsten’s petition on change.org: ShowLucilleBallStruggleWithRAPetition