Who says stuff like that?

I had a bit of a setback these past couple of weeks. Both physically and emotionally. I’ve been trying to stay upbeat, but am still a bit down.

The hip pain that I’ve mentioned seems to only get worse and worse. The option of another replacement has even been tentatively put on the table. It’s something I really would like to avoid. My knee replacements went very well, but I know hip replacements are even more complicated and painful. On top of the R.A., I also have bursitis on my right hip which is making it worse. My rheumatologist gave me a steroid shot, but I think she missed, because it didn’t do any good.

On a brighter note, my knees almost never hurt anymore. Especially the left. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to get the right knee completely straightened. It took over a month of intense therapy to get it from 18 degrees from straight to 4 degrees. I had a week and a half break while switching from home health to outpatient therapy. In that one and a half weeks, my knee went back to the eighteen degrees. As you can imagine, my frustration levels are through the roof. As I’m sure anyone who has ever been through this type of surgery knows, the physical therapy has been a very difficult and painful process, and I’ve worked very hard. And all that work went down the drain. Even though I kept up with the exercises I could do. But…. I’m back in outpatient therapy. At the end of the month, it will be a year of almost constant physical therapy and at this moment in times, my knee is still bent. 

So, if anyone has been reading my posts, you’ll know how much I’ve been looking forward to shopping for clothes to show off my new knees. In fact, I’ve thought of it as a sort of gift to myself for making it through these past few months of surgery and recovery. I haven’t wanted to buy clothes until I lost some of the Prednisone weight, but decided to buy a few things to try and cheer me up from the setback from my knee.

I swear this story is true. I couldn’t make this stuff up. After you read this, you might understand why I hate leaving my apartment. Oh, if it was only a one time thing……..Alas, it is not.

So…..I take my wheelchair because of the ever increasing hip pain and because I’m still not at the point where I can stand for a long time. Nowhere near enough time to shop anyway. I felt really good. I had gotten my hair colored and cut a few days before. I had whitened my teeth, and gotten new make up. I felt like I looked better than I had in a long time. And for the first time in an extremely long time, I put some effort into my looks. So I found a few things to buy and went to pay.

The cashier asked for my I.D. because I payed with my debit card. She looks at the I.D. (which was taken pre-prednisone) and she sort of laughed and looked at me like I was trying to play a trick on her.

She said ” This isn’t really you.” giggle giggle.

I knew where this was going, because it’s happened to me several times. So I reply curtly “Yes, its me.”

“Well you’ve certainly put on some weight haven’t you?” I felt like someone punched me in the gut. There were several people behind me in line and my cousin was with me and there were several other cashiers and customers in the immediate area who could hear it all.

I was horrified, and just replied with a sarcastic “Thank you so much for that…..”

This is were it gets bad. You could tell she wasn’t  being hateful. She was just genuinely dumb.

She looked a little shamed, and as if to make it better she looked at me in my WHEELchair and says, “Oh, dont worry hon, you can run that off in no time”

I just looked at her in genuine amazed shock and noticed the other cashiers’ eyes bug out as they quickly averted their gaze. My cousin was really angry and says “She obviously cant.”

So the woman once again realized her foot was in her mouth, and so once again tried to make me feel better by saying ” You know it’s ok you’re in a wheelchair. Sometimes I really wish I was so I wouldn’t have to walk so much.”

I had a million retorts running through my mind, but was just so angry and mortified, I just hightailed it out of there. I tried to laugh it off, because honestly it’s a bit funny looking back. WHO SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT?!

I tried to put it out of my head, but it really upset me. For years, I’ve dealt with this sort of thing. Strangers looking at my legs like I was some sort of circus act. Gasping, and asking what was wrong with me.

In another post about a year ago I wrote about a woman who kept looking at me and then at my I.D. back and forth, and then asked me pityingly, “What happened to you?”

I had thought that once my more obvious signs of R.A. were gone, people would bother me so much. But apparently my weight horrifies them now. People, from strangers to my own grandfather, wont leave me alone about my weight.

It’s like they think I don’t know. That they need to bring it to my attention so I’ll do something about it. Trust me I know. I can’t even stand to look in the mirror. I’m nearly one hundred pound heavier than I was less than two years ago. Im horrified by it. I haven’t been able to lose a single pound no matter what I’ve done. But the only thing keeping me from being completely bed ridden was the Prednisone and I would do it all over again. I would take every pound. I don’t know anyone who can understand the concept of that kind of pain. How can you even begin to explain this sort of thing to a dumb cashier? So I just give up.

All of my friends tried to reassure me, but when I go in public, there is usually a high chance of all my insecurities being pointed out to me.

It’s just so hard to live with this disease and have no one understand it.

My best friend’s sister ( who, like the cashier wasn’t being hateful, just extremely ignorant) was once talking to me about R.A. drug commericals. She was trying to make small talk so she brings them up and starts laughing and said “Aren’t they ridiculous?! I just want to say, God, just take a freakin aspirin and get over it.” Giggle giggle.  She said that to me. Knowing my full story and  struggles. She wants to say that to them. So in other words, she wants to say to me. It’s just ignorance. And usually, I can let these things slide. But this cashier the other day, just wrecked me.

I cried for hours. I’m crying now just thinking about it. Everyone says not to let some dumb cashier get me so down, but I cant help it. My friends were so mad. They wanted to know the store and her name so they could get her fired. I declined the offer. It certainly wouldn’t make me feel any better. They were mad because almost every time I get the confidence up to start going places, something like this happens, and like some sort of turtle, I just pop back into my shell. It’s frustrating to them I’m sure. And rationally, I am perfectly aware of how dumb it is to miss out on things because of my own pride. But I just can’t help it.

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4 Responses

  1. Strangely enough I had to ride in a scooter this week at Walmart due to the cast I’ve got on my foot. I was amazed at how many people looked at me to see why someone who looked healthy was using a scooter.

    For the first time I could actually point to the cast as my reason…RA is such a hard disease people can’t see it (on me anyway) and don’t understand it…and it’s not something you can explain in 30 seconds either.

    I’m glad that you felt good enough about yourself to get out and do some shopping…though I sure am sorry that you ran into an ignorant cashier..

    If your friends want to do you a favor, have them get some info on RA and have them drop it off to the cashier. Knowledge is power and if we teach one person at a time what RA is then soon we won’t have to deal with ignorant people.

    Keep your chin up, you are doing such an amazing job.

    m (of course you can take my advice with a grain of salt :))

  2. Keep focusing on the improvements you are making and good for you for feeling so good when you first went out. Also, remember some people are just ignorant. I remember when I was hit with RA I suddendly felt a new sympathy for people that walked slowly across the street where before they drove me crazy. I understood bending over being a slow process rather than a speedy event. Sometimes people just can’t put themselves in another’s shoes until they have been there. Unfortunately you had to be the one to feel the effects. Listen to your friends. They see the real beauty in you!

  3. I think you are right that getting the girl fired probably wouldn’t make you feel better, but maybe standing up for yourself would? I think filing a complaint at the store is not unreasonable and maybe would clue that girl into the fact that you really can’t say things like that.
    I’m just sorry that you had to experience that. After my hip surgery one of my very close friends was getting married. The only way I could attend the wedding was in a wheel chair. EVERYONE stared at me at the reception. My family couldn’t believe how obvious people were being. I was completely embarrassed. But you know, that was their issue. And it seems you know that too, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves.
    One last thing, in terms of hip replacements – I was told by many doctors that knees are a lot harder than hips. And my hip replacements weren’t a walk in the park, but they were easier than I thought and well worth it.
    But you’ve been through so much and had this goal you’ve been working towards and when that doesn’t work out the way you expected it is heartbreaking. I’m sorry that is happening to you right now. It is so difficult. I think you are doing the exact right thing by giving yourself the time to grieve that. Once you’ve grieved as much as you need, you’ll be ready to move onto the next hurdle. I know that because of how strong you’ve shown yourself to be. And until then, we’re all here to listen.

  4. Words of others can sting, I know – but please know that having read your blog for the past few months, I have nothing other than admiration for the strong example you have demonstrated to the rest of us of how someone can successfully live with the ins and outs of rheumatoid arthritis.

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