My boss said to me the other day; "If I didn't know you were sick, I would never be able to tell." I was conflicted by this statement. At first, I was very complimented because I strive to not let RA be the end all and be all of my life. On the other hand I couldn't help but wonder what people expect me to look and act like as a person with a chronic disease.
I am aware that I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I don't know why- but I also have an aversion to feeling like I am whining and for giving the illusion that I cannot do whatever it is I set my mind to. Some might say that I am stoic when it comes to this. When I am having a rough time, I just get quieter and try to find the strength to keep going. Sometimes this leads to pushing myself too hard until I am just beyond worn out. It is double edged sword because I would rather minimize the pain and how it affects me than to give in than take the time I could to let myself recover and while it prolongs the episode it makes me feel like I am "winning" over the chronic nature of the illness.
I am still confused as to what people expect me to look like and how I am expected to behave when they find out that I have RA. Am I supposed to complain about the pain all of the time? Am I supposed to refuse to try to do things because they "might" hurt? I don't know what that would accomplish. I feel that it would only make me feel worse and would make everyone in my life miserable. That's just not my style.
I am sure there is a happy medium to going too far to "prove" to myself that I am not sacrificing my life to my RA and to making concessions to the allow me to recover sooner. I just have to find it. I don't try to hide my illness- but evidently I do a good job of making people forget. I just don't know if that's a good thing. I could be setting my efforts at educating people about RA back by going too far in the direction of giving the impression that it doesn't affect every aspect of my life. I think it gives me something to ponder and work on for the next little while.