Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crosses to Bear

Although I am Jewish, there's nothing like the expression "we all have our crosses to bear" to describe how everyone has difficulties in life.

In many ways, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. I was brought up by a handicapped, housebound, divorced mother. My father, may he rest in peace, basically deserted her soon after my birth and she raised me in very difficult financial circumstances.

My life, in many ways, has been the opposite of my mother's. While she was left alone to raise me, I have a wonderful husband who has always stuck by me. "In sickness and in health" is something that he takes very seriously. I am a successful, self-employed professional. I can afford to take off a few months of work to recover from my surgery without worrying about how we will pay the bills. I can drive. Even though I am a firm supporter of public transit (when I take my car in for servicing they practically laugh at the low mileage), driving is an important part of being independent and capable of doing what needs to be done because I--like my mother, my aunt and my aunt's granddaughter--suffer from arthritis.

On Saturday, I was at a high school reunion to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the experimental high school I attended. I was one of the original 160 students who were there the year the school opened its doors. It was an incredible gathering.

One of the people at the party is someone who suffers from a degenerative disease, MS. She is not in great shape and has severe balance issues. The party was held in a spacious private home, but there were lots of people milling about. My two sons were there to help people with their coats, serve wine, pick up dirty dishes, etc. D., the woman with MS, was walking through a crowd of people in the kitchen when she tripped over my older son's foot. It was an accident. She then literally bounced around, trying to regain her balance and ended up, screaming in anger, on the kitchen floor. She was alright, though I suspect she probably acquired a few bruises. The hostess, who is also a friend of hers, rushed to help her get up.

D. was furious at my son. It wasn't his fault, but her anger was palpable.

Much later in the evening, when almost everyone had gone, my friend the hostess remarked that she couldn't understand why D. had been so angry. But I knew why. Even though I don't suffer from the same disease and have a much easier life than D., I too have felt that anger: the anger of not being in control, of having your body control you. She was mad because life just isn't fair.

My physical problems make my life a lot harder than that of many others, but a lot easier than the life of people like D.

We all have our crosses to bear.


  1. My arthritis greatly reduced when I completely gave up wheat and sugar.

    Keep up the struggle.

  2. hey, We all do have our crosses to bear and I feel for that woman. I can understand the frustrated anger. But allowing that anger to control you is just another way of losing control of your life. I hope someone can sit down with her and let her talk about it. The only thing worse than not controlling your body is not controlling your mind. Good post.

  3. Christine: Thank you.

    Fred: Unfortunately, the word arthritis covers a myriad of different conditions.

    I can understand how a change in diet might help some people with inflammatory arthritis, but my arthritis is due to "faulty architecture". I was born with mild dysplasia and my knee started out mildly out of whack and a medical treatment I had as a child just made it worse. Cutting out sugar and wheat are totally useless for arthritis that is caused by a structural malfunction.

  4. There are no simple answers to this. Of course she feels angry - as you did- at the helplessness and loss of control over both her body AND her life. But she still has no right to take out that anger on someone who has done nothing. Of course it could just be she is an angry person and would have lashed out about the accident even if she was fit and healthy. Working out which is the real scenario is of course tricky. But unless she is part of your regular circle of friends you (and your son) are unlikley to see her again. Re-assure yuor son that accidents do happen, he wasn't to blame, and should under no circumstances take what she said to heart.

  5. Just because she has MS doesn't mean that she is free of other "issues," possibly of the mental health variety. Her reaction was over-the-top. That is a sad story. A hug to your son!