Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy as a kid, proudly wearing a gift from his mom.
I am at the half-way point of my month-long visit with my son, RA Guy.
My husband and I live in a different continent than our son so the only methods of keeping in touch with him are through phone calls and/or emails. Although, I must say that since he moved here about 7 years ago we’ve been fortunate in that we’ve managed to see one another on numerous occasions during each passing year – he’s either visited us at our home in Texas or we’ve met in the San Francisco area, we were together at our daughter’s wedding in Missouri, we visited him here a few years ago, and once we even met up in Paris, France for a vacation. I was so glad when he started his blog because it offered me a way of daily keeping informed of his rheumatoid arthritis.
This summer the day-to-day postings of my son detailed the chronic, daily RA problems he was experiencing and my heart ached for him. This had been occurring since November – it had been months. I cried as I read his postings that detailed his worst flares. It was during one of these days that I was on my computer reading my son’s posting for that day that my husband walked into the office area of our home and I turned to him and told him that I thought I needed to come visit our son…right away he responded, “Go ahead and go if you feel that you need to go.” So I made plans to come visit him as soon as possible, although my husband and I have plans of coming for several weeks later in the year and spending Christmas with him and his husband. Maybe there wasn’t anything that I could do to take away his suffering and his pain…but at least I could come and just spend time with him to support him through his daily struggles with RA. When I called to tell him my plans I told him I didn’t want to come do any “tourist” stuff – I just wanted to come spend time with him, sit with him, cook for him or just do whatever there was that I could do for him to help him through his daily struggles with RA.
As a parent I wish it was within my power to control my children’s sufferings, yet that is not always the case. As a parent I will do almost anything to help any one of my children, yet there are times when there is nothing more that we can do…as is the case with a chronic illness. It was during these times that my only remaining resort has been praying for him. I believe prayers to be very powerful. My husband and I have a daily habit of praying for all of our children and grandchildren.
Four years ago when I turned 60 our children surprised me by all showing up at my home on my birthday and also planning a surprise birthday party for me that weekend. Quite a feat since 4 of our 5 adult children all live far away from our home – 2 out of state and 1 out of the country. That was the very first time that I saw my RA Guy son standing on two crutches and it was quite a shock! – he was only 32 years old at the time. Less than a year later I had flown to San Francisco to go spend time with him (before he left the country again) while he was there for a brief period of time following his sister’s wedding in Missouri. At the wedding I’d been happy to see that he was now using a walking cane instead of the crutches – an improvement, I thought…signs to me that he was doing better. One day, he and his partner and I were walking in the Mission district of San Francisco, doing some shopping and browsing, when all of a sudden my RA Guy son stopped and could not go another step – he was in a great deal of pain and couldn’t walk further. I stayed with him while his partner went and got our car and picked us up. My first experience of how RA flares could suddenly appear!
Two years later, in February 2008, three of our adult children came home for a visit to see their grandmother who had been quite ill – our RA Guy son was one of them. He stayed on longer than his two sisters and we enjoyed his extended visit very much. He was going through a relatively good period with his RA at the time. We visited relatives and he and I went out shopping together for things he was taking back to his home. During that week my husband celebrated a birthday and our RA Guy son shopped for and prepared all by himself a lavish breakfast for his father. Our son has always enjoyed cooking and would make a great chef. One year later, in March 2009, our RA Guy son once again came to visit us – this visit, however, was very different from the year before. He required a great deal of bed rest, sleeping most days until noon. He had flares-ups in his ankles and hands. We couldn’t plan on going out to visit relatives or do any shopping because we never knew how he was going to be feeling, whether he’d be physically up to it or not. This time he didn’t do any cooking…something we knew he loved to do. The changes that his RA was having on him were clearly visible.
Shortly after returning to his home following his last visit with us in Texas, our son started this blog and has been documenting his life with RA. I have always been very proud of my son – ever since he was a little boy up until now to the man he’s grown up to become. I know that all parents believe their child to be “special” and I’m no exception, except that I had affirmation of this fact from a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin who tested our son when he was only four years old. I’ll never forget the day she called me into her office to give me the test results and told me that he was a “special” child – that his IQ was very, very high and that “someday he would do great things”. Yes, my son has RA, but that doesn’t change who he is. I continue to be very proud of him and what he’s accomplished in his life. I have read the responses he receives on his blog and I know that he is touching many lives with it.
I’m a believer that sometimes things happen in our lives and we don’t know or understand why – yet I believe that there is a reason for why things happen…good or bad. Out of the worse things that can happen one can look for and find some good in it.
These past two weeks that I have spent visiting my son have been very special to me. I have always enjoyed my visits with him. I’ve been able to go with him to his physical therapist appointments and this afternoon I am joining him at his psychologist’s appointment. We’ve had the opportunity to do some light yoga exercises together once. I sat by him and cried with him one evening during one of his most difficult flare ups since I’ve been here. It isn’t easy (in fact it’s very difficult) to see ones son suffering in pain, still I wouldn’t have it any other way than to be here with him during part of this difficult period for him. At this point it’s all I can do – just to be here with him to offer whatever support my being here brings him.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!