Making the Best Out of Crazy Moments

Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve had many crazy things happen to me mostly because of people’s ignorance on Rheumatoid Arthritis, the invisible illness. I get really upset, specially when they’re judging me without knowing what’s going on. I have several of these stories, and the thing that they all have in common is, at first they really upset me, and now they kinda make me laugh.¬†One of the most common things that I’ve had to deal with is people giving me the stink eye when I park in the handicap zone. It happens all the time, so I hardly ever pay attention whenever it happens.

A few years back, I went to the mall and decided I didn’t know how tired I’d be after the walk around the mall, so I parked in the handicap zone. As I was parking, this lady in her 50s walked right by my car along with her mom who was like in her 70s maybe; they both gave me the stink eye, but like I said, it happens all the time so I didn’t think much of it. I got off of my car and the younger lady yells at me across the parking lot that I don’t qualify to park there. I had my handicap placard, so I just look at her and say, “but I do,” and I turned around and kept walking. She yelled again that she was going to call the police, and I told her to go right ahead and walked into the mall. I walked around for about 45 minutes, until I got tired and went back out. As I’m going out, I see this minivan parked right behind my car. My first thought was “it’s the crazy lady” but then I thought better of it, and realized normal people don’t have 45 minutes to waste in a parking lot just to prove a point and ruin somebody’s day. I was wrong.

I got inside my car, turned it on, and waited, maybe the driver was just waiting for someone to get out from the mall. After a couple of minutes, I got frustrated, and honked… nothing. I look in my rear-view mirror, and sure enough, it was the crazy lady from earlier and her mom. They decided to lock me in until the police got there. I realized she was on the phone and she seemed very upset, so I decided to wait until the police got there to get her to move. After about 15 minutes, I was losing my patience, and was tempted to get off the car and go yell at them and tell them to move. I thought about the possible outcome, and the only outcome I could come up with from such a crazy person was that she’d get out and physically fight me… Like I said, my thoughts are usually what makes these stories funny. I pictured her getting out of the car and pushing me or something, and her and her mom ganging up on me. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was actually scared of getting my butt kicked by a 50 and a 70 year old lady, I couldn’t even outrun them, so I decided it was better if I stayed in my car. Of course, they were thinking I was perfectly healthy, so they wouldn’t attack a young woman who would be stronger than them, but I didn’t think about that then. By this time, I’d already been stuck in my car for like 25 minutes, I started becoming even more upset and impatient when I saw this security guard come out of the mall. He signaled me to stay in the car, and went to talk to the ladies, afterwards, he came to my car and explained the police wasn’t coming because it was a private property, and that the ladies wanted me to get some kind of fine or something anyways, so they wouldn’t leave until the police came. The security guard told me he was trying to calm them down and inform them that if the police did come, I could press charges and they’d be arrested. This gave me the biggest smile ever. I told him to tell them that if they didn’t move I’d call the police and accuse them of harassment, discrimination and keeping me against my will for what was now close to 40 minutes. They got the point and backed away. I thought that was the end of that, but the crazies were even crazier than I imagined, and actually followed me around for several blocks until they finally gave up.

Now this story is funny to me for several reasons. One, I find it insane for someone to spend an hour and a half of their valuable time trying to screw someone else over without knowing all the facts. Another reason I find this funny, and this is usually why I find everything funny is my train of thought… At first I was so angry, then surprised that they’d wait so long, and then I was actually scared that some 50 year old lady was going to try to hit me in the middle of a parking lot and I’d be defenseless. You should’ve seen how that fight went on in my head, it was hilarious to think of a lady my grandma’s age (the one in her 70s) pushing me down and kicking me while I was down… it was like straight out of a comedy movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I get upset too when I see someone who seems healthy park in the handicap zone IF they don’t have a placard or license plates to state they can park there, but I’ve NEVER gone to the extent of locking them in their parking space. I’m not saying I always laugh it off, when it happens I’m furious, but later on when I’m thinking about it, I find it hilarious how I must be one of very few people to be afraid that a seventy-something-year old lady is going to beat me up. Seriously? But at that moment, I’m just made aware of my limitations and realize that if a five year old can bring me down, maybe a lady in her 70s can too. I’ve since realized that if I’m ever in a similar situation, I’ll just call the cops myself, plus I carry pepper spray, just in case some senile old person tries to attack me. There’s a lot of ignorance about “invisible illnesses” out there, so if I’d let it ruin my day every time I encounter someone who doesn’t know young people can be handicap too, I’d never be happy. So I just make the best of it, and realize how there’s always something funny to every story. I can’t think of anything that’s ever happened to me, even in my darkest days, when I don’t have something hilarious that crossed my mind or I actually did to go along with every story. It’s awesome to have only one day ruined by a crazy person, but have a lifetime to remember the hilarity of it all.


Choosing the Bright Side of Support

When I was first diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at 14, I looked forward to finding anyone who had the same condition so I could talk to them. Somehow I knew that meeting someone who was going through or had gone through the same things I was going through would make me feel better. I soon found out that that is not always the case. It really depends on the person. Some people, blogs, websites, magazines, support groups, etc. focus more on the negative part of a medical condition. When you’re looking for support, someone to cheer you up and hold your hand, talking to someone who focuses on the negative can really destroy you. I’ve been very blessed to have an extremely awesome support system, so I learned early on that just because you can talk to someone about your problems, doesn’t mean you should.

When I was diagnosed, I lived with my aunt in Mexico City and was very depressed. My aunt met a woman in her 40’s who had RA for several years and she looked fine. Since I was still in a wheelchair and being hand fed, my aunt introduced me to her to give me hope. I have to say, just seeing her made me feel better about my future. That is, until she started talking. I know she was trying to prepare me for what was to come, but she made it seem like it was the worst nightmare anyone could ever have to go through. All the meds, side effects, surgeries and people not being supportive. I was even more depressed than before I met her. I couldn’t understand, she looked fine to me (at least MUCH better than I was) but the way she talked about it made it seem like the end of the world. When I told my aunt, she reminded me this lady had been sick for over 20 years, and medicine had advanced a lot since. My aunt always knows what to say because she herself suffers from Chronic Thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s Disease) since she was 14; so she knows how to relate to someone in a bad medical situation.

I realized talking to my aunt, who didn’t have RA but understood living with a chronic illness, really did make me feel better about my future. After all, when she was diagnosed, they didn’t think she’d live to see another year. Most of the times she had supportive things to say, things to give me hope and make me laugh. I wasn’t the easiest of patients though, I was young and scared and some days all I wanted to do was sleep and cry. My aunt wouldn’t have it, she’d make me get out of bed and go grocery shopping (in a wheelchair) with her, or talk to her while she did her chores, anything to get me out of bed. I’d get so angry at her, at that point I thought she just didn’t understand my physical and emotional pain. I’ve since come to understand she understood perfectly well, and was trying to ease my emotional pain by getting my mind off of my own misery and showing me there’s more to life than being sick. I know it was unbelievably hard for her, because she loves me, to see me in pain and not give in to her own pain, but I gotta say what she did absolutely worked.

My mom suffers from Lupus, she was just diagnosed a few years ago, so I tried to be the support for her that my aunt was for me. Gave her pointers on how to make her life easier, reminded her of the importance of keeping up with medicines and appointments and staying positive. It wasn’t easy on her, because she now understood the physical pain I went through everyday; so she became depressed. I told her not to worry about me, at that time I was doing excellent, my RA was under control, I had a good job, my own appartment, and was going to college. Life was awesome! I told her, it’s not always a piece of cake, but you push through it, and it’ll always be worth it. She started doing better, but then she joined a Facebook group that was just the worst thing that could’ve happened to her. She’d call crying at least once a week that someone else in her group had died. I couldn’t understand why she just didn’t leave the group, I’d tell her “but you’re ok, why are you seeing cases that are worse off than you and thinking that’ll happen to you too?” With these cases, you don’t know the details, if they had good medical care, or kept up with their meds. There’s no need to make yourself anxious over something you don’t have all the details about. I strongly suggested she ditch that group and look for a more positive one.

In this life, I’ve encountered many people with my same condition. I’ve joined blogs, read magazines, joined Facebook groups and more; but I don’t always stick around. I’ve come to learn that negative and positive thinking is contagious. I try to spread the positive, but sometimes some people are so wrapped up in what they’ll never get to do or the pain they’re going through that their negativity overpowers your positivity. It is also important to be able to give and get tough love, sometimes you’re so wrapped up in what’s wrong, that no amount of positive talking will help. It is then, when you need people around you who won’t let you lay in bed everyday just crying yourself to sleep. It’s happened to me a few times, and I have had amazing people around me who wouldn’t leave me alone no matter how much I told them I wanted to just sleep. Talking to people who have gone through or are going through what you’re going through is EXTREMELY helpful, but you have to be cautious with whom you talk to, sometimes someone who isn’t going through the exact thing you’re going through might be just what you need. We have to look out for ourselves, our emotional and physical well-being, and if something or someone is bringing us down, we need to run away in the opposite direction as fast as we can.