Ms. Meniscus:

My daughter has just been diagnosed with RA. She’s 17, and I think she’s had it for a couple years but we didn’t pay attention to her symptoms. I’m raising her alone and it doesn’t help that I’m totally healthy, eat and drink a little too much, only stopped smoking five years ago, and have always gloated about being indestructible. Since she was diagnosed, we’ve become more distant. We were never close, but we always got along. Now I think she is ashamed that she won’t grow old healthy like me, and that I won’t understand what she’s going through. Any advice?

Healthy Mom.

Dear Healthy Mom,

Go to the library with your daughter on a Saturday afternoon to pick up some books about arthritis.

Although you are a “Healthy Mom,” your unhealthy lifestyle has undoubtedly had an effect on your young daughter.  Especially raising her on your own, you have been her only source of guidance and having seen how effortlessly being “healthy” has come to you, she – being your daughter – had probably come to the conclusion that her health would be as resilient. So yes, she probably feels a little ashamed, if not resentful to be diagnosed with R.A.

The imperative task on your end is now to educate yourself about R.A. Show interest in what your daughter is going through. Go to the library with your daughter on a Saturday afternoon to pick up some books about arthritis. Your daughter’s diet and lifestyle are going to change so that she can stay as pain-free as possible, so you will have to show support by amending your own diet and lifestyle to complement these changes. Find a local arthritis support group and offer to accompany her to the meetings. Talk to her about her feelings and offer comfort, and let us know at CJ what’s going on. Submit stories and pics that show what you’re going through so others can share your strength and experience.

Being a mother is a hard job, but it gets even more complicated when a child is forced to go through a life experience you know nothing about – so take time to give yourself credit for stepping up, dealing with this, and growing in the process.

Good luck