Be like a bamboo

She  walked  into  my  office  with  great  discomfort.  Her  knees  were  swollen  and  stiff,  her  hips  unwilling  to  move forward. She wore shapeless shoes on her deformed feet. Her face wore an expression of pain and suffering. She chose to sit in the upright chair instead of the more comfortable soft wingback. Once she had settled down, she did not move again. Her gnarled fingers had neatly tended nails. She spoke in a weary voice.

“Please could you try to help me. I cannot do any housework or even cook a simple meal for my family. Sometimes one of my children even have to help me undress and bath on very bad days when my shoulders feel stiff. I have been  suffering  from  this  arthritis  for  a  few  years  and  have  tried  many  cures.  Nothing  seems  to  help.  I  have  now developed stomach ulcers due to the constant use of anti-inflammatories and pain killers. To use suppositories for the  pain  is  very  expensive  and  I  am  sure  I  will  not  be  able  to  carry  on  with  that  without  some  side  effect  causing harm  to  me.”  At  this  point  she  covered  her  face  with  her  misshapen  hands  and  silently  wept  into  them.  Her desperation touched me deeply and I wished I had a magic wand to take it all away for her.

She  was  still  relatively  young  to  have  such  advanced  rheumatoid  arthritis.  At  46  years  old  you  seldom  expect  to find this kind of case history. She had had a tough life. She helped to bring up 4 other siblings on a small income generated by both working parents. Food was simple and often too little, but they all shared and made the most of whatever  they had. She was often exposed to very cold temperatures  to walk  to school, without proper protective warm  clothing.  As  a  child  she  had  repeated  tonsillitis  which  necessitated  a  tonsillectomy  at  age  12.  She  had  her first  child  at age  17, after which  four  more  followed  in  quick  succession. Her  husband  tried his  best  to provide  for his expanding family, without much success. The life of barely enough to eat or wear as a child, continued into her fight for survival, now as a mother and a wife. Her husband died when the youngest of the 5 children was 3 years old.  The  company  he  worked  for  paid  out  an  amount  of  money  which  did  not  last  long.  She  ended  up  living  with family members, trying her best to cope with the demands of a growing family.

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