You have been feeling like crap for a long time and have run out of excuses to explain it so you give in to the pressure of your family and friends and make an appointment with the doctor. He/She then takes you down a path of diagnostic testing to find out what ails you. After weeks or months, all the test results are in and you are to have a meeting with the doc. While awaiting this “disclosure” meeting your mind races with all the worst case scenarios that you can conjure. Don’t worry, if you lack a good working knowledge of possible medical ailments there are always helpful friends, family, and the occasional stranger that will be more than thrilled to detail their experiences with the medical community.
The big day arrives and you walk into the doc’s office carrying all your own worst nightmares and those of everyone else you know. You hear an almost audible creek from the chair as you sit straining against the burdens you bear. The doc is not in the room yet and you and whoever accompanied you make nonsensical chit chat waiting for the boom. Your mind races to fixate on anything that doesn’t concern the reason you are there. In fact, by the time the doctor arrives you know how many stick pins are in the round container sitting on the desk. You begin praising yourself for accomplishing the simple task especially since you were able to count each color individually. Voices beyond the door behind you snap you back to reality and you become irritated because those voices are happily discussing their upcoming vacations. You begin a mental rant of the insensitivity of those disembodied voices when the doctor swings the door wide and quickly wipes the broad toothy grin from his face.
He greets you and your companion then sits to look over your chart and subsequent test results. You stare incredulously at him thinking how much time you have spent over the past month waiting for these blasted test results and he just decides to look at them now??? After a cursory glance at the notes, he looks up and provides you with a sedate smile then begins to barrage you with medical techno mumbo jumbo that you do not understand. You catch a few recognizable terms here and there…arthritis… discomfort… treatments… prescriptions… non-lethal…wait, he said non-lethal, right? “So, I’m not dying…?” Your question, which broke his steady stream of medical babble, reflected as surprise in his expression. Whether it was surprise that you dared interrupt him or that you thought your condition terminal, you could not tell. A slight chuckle and a flood of reassuring words convinced you that you were not going to die from this ailment and that there were many treatments for the condition. Yet, it was his next statement that would later consume many hours of your thoughts. “It’s just arthritis…and it will not kill you.” After the relief swept the dread away, your mind struggled to get around the idea that a 40 year old could have arthritis. Arthritis is an old person’s disease so how on earth can I have it? The doc was explaining the different treatment options he was going to try and assured you that you needn’t see a specialist because he could prescribe you the medicine you will need. “Do you have any questions?”, the doc finally asked. Of course your mind that had just been overflowing with every imaginable question goes completely blank. You mutter something that indicates that you do not have any questions and are then ushered out the door with a fist full of prescriptions and a pat on the back. The front desk nurse looks down at the paper and says, Looks like the doc wants to see you again in 3 months? Wow, 3 months what the heck are you supposed to do for 3 months? You have been in a lot of pain, are this prescriptions going to work? What happens if they don’t? Your mind now fills with all the racing questions it had forgotten just a few moments before. She hands you the appointment card and you shuffle from the office. The person that came with you is all smiles, patting you on the back congratulating you that is was “just” arthritis and nothing serious. There is that word again and it is already starting to annoy you but you are not quite certain why… Instead of saying anything, you smile back and agree. Over the next three months it becomes painfully clear why the word annoyed you and why it makes you angry now. Angry at the doc for saying it in the first place and then at everyone else who has said it since. You begin a crusade of fact finding all information about arthritis trying to determine what you are really facing. After all, you reason this pain cannot be simple arthritis…could it?