I have read many articles during my intensive Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) research which suggest that women developing RA during their childbearing years might have been able to prevent the onset of RA or at least delay their RA symptoms if they became pregnant earlier in life. As a woman who developed RA at the young age of 23, I am often flabbergasted by this suggestion. If I honestly had the opportunity to chose between being a single mom at 23 years old or developing a crippling, chronic disease, I think I would have hit up the sperm bank! Come on, the choice would have been easy! Or maybe not…
Let’s relive the last few years of my life really quickly. I started my first glamorous job after college making an amazing annual salary of $25,900 at a Newspaper Advertising agency. According to USA today, the average day care costs $15,960 per year so there goes 61% of the salary leaving my fatherless child and I living well below the US poverty level at $9,940 per year. OK, I’m not convinced this option would have worked, but my body wouldn’t have hurt as much. Or as my brother once kindly suggested, maybe I could rent my womb out to couples in exchange for cash 9 months out of the year? No thanks bro, but I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that idea!
At the end of the day, I have to believe God doesn’t throw us anything we can’t handle. While having RA is terribly uncomfortable, depressing, and scary, I have learned to REALLY love life. I do. I don’t know if people can really appreciate all of the small things in life until they’ve been forced to suffer. Suffering comes in so many forms like disease, heartbreak, poverty, hunger, death of a loved one, etc. And all of those things make us stronger people. As Helen Keller once said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming”. It may seem strange, but sometimes I actually thank God for throwing this obstacle in my path. Without it, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to keep working when I could have easily taken disability to stay home and wallow in my sadness. Without RA, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to pursue Grad school while working full time. Without RA, I wouldn’t have joined the Associate Board of the Arthritis Foundation to fundraise and generate awareness for a disease affecting 46 million men, women and children with Arthritis.
Pregnancy Linked to Lower RA Risk: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6303C820100401
Daycare costs: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/general/2006-04-18-child-costs-usat_x.htm
Number of men, women and children with Arthritis: http://www.arthritis.org