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.