I’ve had arthritis a long time and it’s been a long battle.
Basically it’s your body against your strength of will, aided by drugs, therapy and rest.
It’s a dirty war because you never leave the battlefield and the skirmishes can go on for years.
The best days are the ones when you discover you’re winning, you’ve beaten back the disease and slowed the damage.
The worst is when the sickness is rampaging through your system and you’re out of energy and ammunition. You simply lie where you are, wounded, waiting for relief via steroids or morphine or something with an unpronounceable name.
There are no negotiations and cease fires are rare.
In this war, we pray for our version of the military — our doctors, and our version of black ops — researchers.
We wait for the next magic bullet and hope its powers to contain or destroy are what the doctor ordered.
We endure the “injuries” (aka side effects) with stoicism and hope. We rejoice when some people get better, we feel their pain when they don’t.
We mourn with friends and family when a loved one has lost their fight and we remember them as the brave, honorable warriors.
Many of us show our battle scars — our limping gaits, twisted fingers, swollen knuckles, oversize knees, ankles and wrists. Others have rashes and sores that are ever present and hard to explain.
Then there are those of us whose scars are on the inside. People can’t see my spine is stacked like a toddler’s building blocks, or that my damaged nerves cause never-ending pain.
Our good friends, our allies, know we don’t sleep much, or we can’t seem to stay awake, that we forget things all the time, that we cry with frustration when the money runs out before the doctor bills are paid or the prescriptions are bought.
Still, we soldier on. We do what work we can. We rejoice when we win those hard fought battles and are stoic when the going is rough.
We hang on with courage, we use our strength of will to meet our daily goals, whether they are simply getting up and dressed at some point in the day, or doing the laundry and helping cook a meal.
Our battlefields may be invisible to the healthy among us, but the rest of us believe eventually we will win the war.
What can friends and family do? They can be our USO. They can cheer us up, listen when we whine, comfort us when spirits are low and keep believing we are doing the best we can with what we have.