Survivor: Tierra Del Fuego (Season 19)

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy

SurvivorWhile surfing online last night, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy came across a leaked document that included all of the secret details about the upcoming season of the hit CBS reality show Survivor.

The link has since been taken down, but I’ll go ahead and share with you what I remember.

This season’s big twist (spoiler alert!): In order to be eligible for the show, contestants must be living with rheumatoid arthritis. (In a related twist, producers have agreed to eliminate any upper or lower age limits.)

This new season will be named Survivor: Tierra del Fuego. (Translation: “Land of Fire”.) This archipelago is located off the southernmost tip of South America; the island chain is divided between the countries of Chile and Argentina.

However, the internal documents showed all filming will actually take place in a climate-controlled sound stage located in New Jersey. The goal is not to maintain a stable weather environment, however. Instead, the aim is to be able to easily and quickly switch from arctic tundra winds to rain forest heat and humidity. (Experts who are advising the producers were quick to note that these climate changes would not have any affect whatsoever on the contestants…whatever!)

Originally, producers planned to start with the following two tribes:

Tribe A: Contestants who received a speedy RA diagnosis.

Tribe B: Contestants who received a long, drawn-out RA diagnosis.

Ultimately this idea had to be shelved, as not enough people could be found to complete the first tribe.

(Harsh, no? But have you ever stopped and thought: Why, in this day and age, does it still take so long to arrive at a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis? As I bounced from doctor to doctor for years, all the time exhibiting what I later found out were major signs of RA, not one ever suggested that I see a rheumatologist.)

In the end two tribes were finalized, and trust me – these two tribes really raise the notion of rivalry to a whole new level!

Tribe A: Contestants who believe that diet affects RA.

Tribe B: Contestants who believe that diet does not affect RA.

(Seriously folks, can’t we just all get along? I’m not advocating the take-this-special-pill-and-you’ll-be-cured-overnight stuff, I’m just talking about the food that we choose to either eat or not eat.)

As usual, this season will be chock full of exciting challenges.

Endurance: 10-yard dash, grocery shopping (on a Saturday morning), and holding that smile while you hear (for the millionth time) some off-beat bit of “advice” from a perfect stranger.

Problem Solving: Three card rheumy (where you have to try and pick which rheumatologist is good at listening), balancing your health budget (always in their favor), and “what do you do at work when every day technically qualifies as a ‘sick’ day?”

Teamwork: 1% me 99% them (on the absolute worst of flare days, of course), “‘I’ll stir if you chop, slice, measure, pour, and clean up”,  and the six-legged race (three legs, two crutches, and one cane).

Dexterity: Tie your shoes, thread a needle, and button your shirt.

Willpower: Keep moving even though it really hurts, keep moving even though it really really hurts, and keep moving even though it really really really hurts.

In reward challenges, contestants will have the opportunity to win “Get out of flare free” cards.  (Redeemable only at time that is never of their choosing, of course.)

There will be no immunity challenges this season. All contestants are equally eligible each week to have their torch lit during the “you’ve been flared” ceremony.

The season winner will receive a year’s worth of doctor visits, lab tests, physical therapy sessions, medicines, more medicines to counteract the first group of medicines, counseling sessions, acupuncture sessions, and (if you were in Tribe A) dietitian visits.

Early reviews are already coming in.

“It’s going to be the teariest season yet!” -TV Guide.

“All winners, no losers!” -NY Times.

“Two (swollen) thumbs facing in the general upward direction” -Ebert & Roeper

Okay, so I obviously wanted to have some fun with today’s post – and not provoke a river of tears for a second day in a row. Still, I’ll close on a simple, yet serious, note.

Be a survivor. Don’t be a victim.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!