Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How I explain RA to my kids

Explaining RA or any autoimmune disease to children (or adults) is not easy. It takes a while and repeating myself and even then, there is no guarantee the people will understand. So, I drew out some stuff the other day. It took a while because using my hands is not something I can do for a period of time. I love to write and draw. I prefer the old pencil/paper method to computer because I type faster than my thoughts so most of the time I sit staring at the screen waiting for the next thought to pop into my head. Hopefully the images I am going to upload to my computer will post here decently.

This is the first picture.
The second - introducing the immune system.
This is a very basic look at what happens when a virus or bacteria enter the body. The WBC fight until the foreign antibody is dead.
This pain she is feeling (or he, just happens that autoimmune occur in more women then men), is constant unless she takes a pain killer. The stiffness every morning from 30-45 min (give or take) and the pain pays no regard to if it is cold or hot outside. When the barometric pressure increases, however, so does her pain.
This is just an minute example of what happens in her body. The WBC are attacking the tissues (in this case) between the bones in her fingers. Now, picture that happening all over her body, in all joints. Her body is begging the WBC and immune system to stop trying to attack it. Telling the system it's NOT the enemy. But it's not listening.

There is no cure for RA or any autoimmune disorder. Medication can slow down the process and make life comfortable and livable. One person can have more than one autoimmune disorder, too, and they are not only attacking the joints, but they will attack the heart, liver and other organs in the body. To these people who suffer, their immune system sees it's creator, owner, host as an enemy. And we all know, that the immune system will fight until the enemy is dead.

That last sentence, when I wrote it last night, made reality sink in for the first time in a year.

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