I got a free subscription to a magazine called “Arthritis Today” that is supposed to have modern techniques for living with arthritis. I was flipping through it tonight while we were getting ready for bed when I came across an article entitled “Relationship Realities.” The tagline read: “Although maybe not as visible as the physical symptoms, the interpersonal side effects of arthritis can be just as painful.” Sounded interesting and potentially useful to me and APL, so we decided to read it together.
A few paragraphs in, we realized that the tone of the article lacked a bit of the "positive thinking" concept supported in other parts of the magazine:
Arthritis does not impact just the person with the diagnosis. It also affects spouses, children, parents, friends, and even co-workers. The truth is, chronic illness often curtails social activities, impacts intimacy and requires extra patience and understanding. In fact research has found that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have less emotional support and social companionship than their peers without RA do.
APL’s righteous outrage response: RA sounds like a fate I wouldn’t want to wish upon my enemies – who wants to die alone in a cave? With no sex? And P.S. and your joints are creaky and you have no friends. Isn't this magazine supposed to help you live with this disease ? Instead they are saying, “well…you’re boned!” I mean, who studies this shit: “Do your knuckles hurt? Hmmm…do you have any friends? Oh, I see….”
By this point, we were laughing quite heartily about how bad this “good” advice was. Then we got to the part of the article that explained that good communication was key to saving your relationships:
To cope, Lynne Matallana, 53, of Anaheim, Calfi., and her husband have created a game to better communicate. “He asks, ‘How many horses?’ and I tell him, ‘Today it feels like I’ve been kicked by 50 horses,’ or ‘It feels like I’ve been kicked by only five horses today’” she explains. Developing a “code” such as this serves two purposes: It enables Lynne to be honest about the amount of pain she’s experiencing, and it strengthens the bond she feels with her husband. Likening pain to a heard of wild horses certainly won’t make it disappear, but the thought of dozens of mares kicking in unison, like a line of cancan dancers, is an image that has the power to elicit a smile
APL’s righteous outrage response: Hahaha! Horsies kicking! How fun! Except for the part where the horses doing the cancan are all KICKING YOUR WIFE, YOU DOUCHEBAG!
APL makes me laugh and he’s going to save me from the line of cancan kicking horses! Also, he was willing to read through an article with me that might have had good advice for dealing with the third wheel that has suddenly appeared in our relationship: my chronic illness. And even when the article sort of turned out to be a great big cancan of scientifically studied depression, APL helped me laugh all the way through it. I can honestly say I enjoyed reading the article – because I did it with him.
I love love love APL.