I had a glass of wine (or three) the other evening with a friend of mine, Jimmy. We used to work for the same company years ago. The company ended the employment of Jimmy and several other male salesmen who were over 50. Jimmy had worked for the company for nearly 30 years. Jimmy filed suit and, as it turns out, I was called as one of his witnesses, having been Manager of Investor Relations at the time and privy to all sorts of corporate information. Thirteen years and several appeals later, Jimmy finally prevailed to the tune of a multi-million dollar judgment.
Not many of us get the opportunity to reinvent who we are, but Jimmy is in that position. For almost three decades he was a part of a leading company in the industry. Then for 13 years, he was living the nightmare of ongoing litigation. Those things tend to mold your life and define your identity. Now all that is gone and Jimmy has to figure out who he is all over again.
He said an interesting thing to me over seared tuna and Chablis. He said that age is immaterial. He said that you need to figure out how old you feel and that’s how you should live your life.
I asked, “So if I wake up one morning with amnesia, with no way of knowing how old I am, I should just decide how old I felt and start living my life.”
That’s the concept, anyway, and it’s an intriguing one. [ Most days] I feel about 20 years younger than I am. I have good skin, and while I don’t look 20 years younger, most people guess my age as several years less than my actual age.
But what if I woke up with amnesia and didn’t know I had RA? How would I live my life?
I am grateful for the community in the RA blogosphere, but as I visit various sites I am struck by how differently people are affected by their disease. In my life, it’s just something else I have to deal with — kind of like having a car. I have some sort of pain, swelling, or other inflammation every day — I drive my car every day. I do Enbrel injections once a week, I fill up my car once a week. I go see my rheumatologist on a regular basis, I take my car in for service on a regular basis. Occasionally I have an RA problem that needs attention, once in a while the car needs some extra attention. In my life RA=automobile service.
And there are a lot of people who are in the same stage of the disease I am, who are relatively stable, and go about their lives. Others, unfortunately are in a more advanced stage and RA tends to dominate their very existence. And yet there are others who, although being in an early stage, are also relatively newly diagnosed and are overwhelmed — so RA has a greater effect on their daily life than it does mine and perhaps others.
While I would like to be 30 again without any RA symptoms, I don’t think I would want to wake up today and not realize I have RA. Or least not after the first week or two. Because then I’d have to go through the often frustrating and disheartening process of figuring out what was wrong with me all over again and go through those rush of emotions when you find out you have a chronic disease. I’m much better off just getting in my car every day and driving to work or errands and taking it to the shop once in a while.
What would you do if you woke up with amnesia? How would your life change? Are those differences something that you should consider making? Should you start acting your age?
Just as long as you don’t forget that there’s a great community of RA bloggers here to support you, a bit of amnesia could possibly be a good thing.
Thanks for checking in.