Let me introduce myself first. I'm Kris Harty, a lifelong patient who has been diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Living with a disability can be a great struggle but with persistence and perseverance, disability will not be a barrier to leading a normal life.
I have to commend the health care industry for making everyone feel at ease, specially those with visible conditions. But, I can't deny that there are times we come accross people who make us realize that we have a physical disorder.
On one of my regular mornings when I was getting in my car from an organization's meeting, a gentleman who I've known for years voiced out some great points to ponder about our path to success. He said, "to grow a business, having the right thoughts would do all the trick."
He then looks at me saying, "This relates to health as well."
Now, facing the crowd, he continues with, "My friends with arthritis keep complaining about how much pain they go through. Yes, of course it does but that is what's in their mind all the time!"
There was a sudden silence and finally he looked at me saying, "Maybe you didn't understand the connection."
"Ahh! You've told me this so many times" was my response to him.
An awkward moment for him perhaps, he paused to say "Have I?"
We stared at each other for quite awhile and I looked at the others who didn't have anything to say. He didn't have anything to say either.
I moved on with my own business, sat in my car but I was left to wonder why did I respond late. I should have answered something like this, "How many children "think" about getting diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and actually have one?" It doesn't work that way. We can't leave everything to "thinking".
Just before I could drive off, a lady, who was a stranger to me made a comment saying I had the mark of the beast on my forehead.
Oh please, not another lunatic! My strongly visible limp seems to allow strangers to come up to me and comment on my physical disability. But this was crossing the limit. She adds on saying, "God is going to cure your legs and make them stronger today afternoon."
I told her that He already did and He does it everyday. With almost slamming the door, she replied, "Excellent. Have a blessed day!" Yes, I'm trying to have a blessed day but having to deal with people like you doesn't make me feel blessed.
All I wanted that moment was to go home and be alone. I just had to pass by a pet store to grab some cat food. The store's greeter looked at me closely from head to toe. I stared back and kept staring until she stopped. She then offered help.
Finally, I reached home with nobody bothering me about my condition in having to deal with rheumatoid arthritis. How about if I start carrying a sign saying, "Thank you for not staring"?
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About the author: A life-long perseverer, the author (aka The Short Chick with the Walking Stick) is a 40 year veteran of the medical industry – on the receiving end. Stickability Specialist Kris Harty helps individuals and organizations experiencing fatigue and burnout keep going.