Please, Don’t Call Me a Warrior
Over the past 14-plus years that I’ve had a connection to psoriatic arthritis, people and organizations have put many labels on me: warrior, hero, superhero, champion, and more. I’ve never really felt like I’ve measured up to any of these.
I’ve never served in the military. I never saved a life. I don’t have X-ray vision. I’ve never defeated a worthy opponent in a contest that really counts. After all, psoriatic arthritis still grips my life even when my symptoms are well managed. And, most importantly, I didn’t cure arthritis, my real nemesis on the battlefield.
Just like everyone else
I am no different than every other person who has been dealt the bad hand of this disease.
On really bad days, my pain is at a 10. Even those with mild psoriatic disease have probably experienced a pain level of 10 at least once. I’m lucky that mine is usually around 2-3 daily, but I know what those upper numbers mean when I’m flaring, and I’m grateful that the 8-10s are few and far between.
For me, and I’m only speaking for me, I’d rather be known as persistent – someone who refuses to give up in spite of the pain obstacle thrown in front of her. I don’t feel like a warrior. I feel like me getting on with my life and saying “heck, ya” to all the great, everyday life moments.
Tenacious? Ok. I’ll taket that.
A doctor once said to me, “The day you do not get out of bed is the day you let the disease win.” Those are pretty harsh words to hear at your first rheumatologist appointment, but I find them to be true.
I always muster the will to get up each morning. It’s never easy, and sometimes I have to ask for help or give myself extra time. But in the end, I always get up. I have a job and have to pay the bills. Staying in bed is usually not an option for me.
I’m really no champion because I get out of bed. Instead, you can mark me down for being tenacious, but so are other patients living with psoriatic arthritis. I guess the disease just makes us that way.
Here’s a label I’m very proud to wear: fierce. I consider myself a fierce friend (and I hope my friends would agree), mother and wife. I carry this attribute over from my immediate circle to include patients in our community who struggle to find the words to defend themselves against labels some in society have put on them: lazy, faking it, exaggerating, or drama-filled.
No joke. I get red and fired up when I hear these attributes thrown around by people who clearly don’t know what it’s like to have psoriatic arthritis: Unable to walk, feeling real pain throughout their bodies, struggling to care for their child, losing independence… The list goes on and on.
In the words of Mr. T, “I pity the fool” who says any of this about a PsA friend within earshot of me. They will get a talking to unlike anything they’ve experienced before, and hopefully will come away with more education about psoriatic disease and more compassion for those who have it.
So, yes, I’m a fierce advocate, too. At least, I think so.
Warrior? Ok, maybe.
I still don’t consider myself a warrior, hero, superhero, or champion in my life. I just don’t think simply having psoriatic arthritis allows me to claim any of these labels.
But if I look at the labels in a different light, perhaps I can wear some of these from time to time. I can be a warrior, hero, superhero, and champion to the cause.
I can educate others about the disease and how it affects so many across the world and how the disease is so frustrating because not one person will experience PsA the same as another. I can be there to support others who have yet to find their voice. I can make an impact in my community and help raise awareness.
In fact, we all can choose to be warriors.